With flashy decor and upbeat music, casinos are designed to be exciting places where people can let loose and try their hand at games ranging from poker to roulette. With the possibility of big wins, casino gambling is a thrill that can’t be found elsewhere. But the truth is, you aren’t going to win every time. Casinos are in business to make money, and they have built-in advantages that ensure the house always wins.
The people that come to a casino share one thing in common: they want to have a good time. They are a diverse group, from regulars who strut around with confidence expecting to win big to people who simply want to get back the money they lost on their last trip. But everyone has a good time, with music blaring and coins clinking in the air.
The movie Casino captures this atmosphere, with deft echoes of Goodfellas in its early sequence with Nicky and Ace wandering the Copacabana. The film also captures the rough blur of organized crime and big business, the foibles of both groups emphasized by the interplay of unions and mobster families. Then, too, there is the casino itself: a world of escapism and illusion, where winning is everything. Like Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls a few years later, Scorsese offers us a vision of Sin City that is a liminal space, situated between Victorianism and Modernism with a skepticism for what will take its place.