Gambling Movies: Casino

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Set in the 1970s in Las Vegas, Martin Scorsese’s film Casino is an intriguing piece of cinema that focuses heavily on betting.

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Based on the true story of Sam Rothstein, who is brilliantly played by Robert De Niro, Casino explores the relationship between gambling and organised crime. Rothstein, also known as “Ace” in the movie is sent by a mob named the Chicago Outfit to run the Tangiers Casino. Extremely successful in his role, he effectively doubles the casino’s profit.

This leads to him earning protection from Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, with this character’s very erratic and unhinged behaviour an interesting theme throughout. This ultimately sees him get banned from every casino in Vegas.

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Sharon Stone also has a big role in the film. Featuring as Ginger, Sam falls in love with her, as they go on to have a child. Their relationship falls apart after her interactions with conman, Lester, are uncovered. She then spirals into an unfortunate addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Full of violence and corruption involving politicians, the film notably offers a keen insight into the shady goings on in Vegas’ Casino scene.

Owning a casino despite not having a licence to do so, Sam initially gets around this, but state regulators begin to cotton on to him. He then goes on to encounter issues when the FBI begin to investigate him and his organised crime friends. Ultimately, after a trial, he is denied a licence, but in a show of defiance he starts a show named “Aces High” to show his power.

The film’s closing stages are full of drama surrounding the main characters in Ace, Nicky and Ginger, which we won’t give away. But it unquestionably makes for a captivating climax to this entertaining film.

Award winning and considered one of Scorsese’s finest movies, Casino’s definitely worth a watch.

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