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Casino is a masterpiece of filmmaking, not only because it encapsulates the essence of the Sin City, but also because it provides a fascinating insight into how casinos work. Casino is an epic history lesson that tells the story of how Las Vegas became a giant gambling corporation and how the mafia lost control of a once-mighty city that was minting money in the billions.
Gambling is a dangerous, addictive business that requires people to take risks with their money in exchange for the possibility of huge returns. The house always wins in the long run, and Casino demonstrates how the gambling industry uses psychology and design to lure people in and keep them gambling until they’re broke.
It’s no accident that the casino floor is designed as a labyrinth. There are no straight aisles that lead to the exit, and the layout is deliberately confusing. The goal is to make it difficult to leave and stop gambling, even if you are tired or hungry. Casinos also serve a lot of booze to help lower inhibitions and cloud judgement. This helps people forget how much they are losing and makes it easier to convince themselves that just one more bet could make everything right again.
In addition, casinos change cash into colorful little discs called chips that have no monetary value, so that players don’t feel the pain of their losses as strongly. Many casinos also let patrons load money onto a card that can be used to play digital games, further dissociating gambling from the actual cost of spending real money.
Another way casinos trick people into spending money is by making it easy to spend more than they have, allowing them to lose track of how much they’ve spent and when their next paycheck will come in. This is why casinos often offer free food, drinks and hotel rooms to big bettors, so that they will keep coming back for more.
Martin Scorsese is a master at crafting scenes and pacing, and Casino is no exception. While the movie runs nearly three hours, it never lags or feels overlong and is riveting to the end. The performances by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are also outstanding, especially from the latter who plays his character with a blend of toughness, charm, and honesty that’s hard to find in other mob movies.