A casino is a place where champagne glasses clink, money changes hands and luck smiles upon those with the right combination of nerve and strategy. It’s also a place where you can test your luck at games of chance like blackjack, poker and roulette. Whether you’re there to win big or just try your luck, casinos are a fun and thrilling environment where the music blares and people mingle.
Traditionally, casinos have offered patrons free food and drinks and other amenities in order to get them to stay and gamble. This strategy is called “comps,” and it’s used by most casinos to increase their profits. These comps are based on how much the player spends in a certain period of time. Some casinos even offer limo service and airline tickets to high bettors.
In Casino, Scorsese and De Niro take a different approach to the casino genre. The film is a liminal space, not between Victorianism and Modernism, but between organized crime and big business. And although it features plenty of gangster violence (including a torture-by-vice sequence with popped eyeballs and a baseball bat beating that had to be trimmed for an NC-17 rating), Ace’s legal success transcends the roughest edges of wise-guy street life.
The movie’s atmosphere is encapsulated in a brilliant early scene with deliberate echoes of Goodfellas’ Copacabana interlude. In this, we see the Tangiers casino’s money counting room where skimming off the till is an art and one that Ace counts on as long as the kickbacks go to his old-school associates.