From simple slots and roulette to more complex games of skill, like blackjack or poker, there’s something for everyone at a casino. In addition to gambling, casinos usually offer food and beverage services, stage shows and other entertainment to attract customers. In some cases, casinos will reward big spenders with free hotel rooms, dinners, tickets to shows and even limo service and airline tickets. These rewards are called comps.
While Casino is full of bravura set pieces, it’s also a movie that’s less about spectacle than about the ways in which institutions are corrupted by crooks and hucksters. Scorsese’s ambivalence is evident throughout, even in the movie’s hellacious violence sequences, including a popped eyeball and brutal baseball bat beating, which were both carefully edited to avoid an NC-17 rating.
Despite all of the flash and glitz of modern casinos, there’s one certainty about gambling: The house always wins. This isn’t because the people playing are a bunch of dumb luck-counters, or that they aren’t good at math or strategy. Rather, the games all have built-in advantages, called “house edges,” that ensure that the casino will ultimately make more money than the players. In a game such as video poker, this advantage is often over 8%. It’s not surprising that so many people are drawn to this type of environment. It’s an escapist fantasy, and for some people, it’s all that they need. For others, it becomes a serious addiction that leads to devastating consequences for families and communities.