Beneath the varnish of flashy lights and free cocktails, casinos are built on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed their patrons of cash. For years, mathematically inclined minds have tried to turn the tables by harnessing their knowledge of probability and game theory to exploit weaknesses in a rigged system. It turns out, however, that the only way to beat a casino is simply not to play.
Despite their inherently risky nature, casinos do succeed by encouraging people to gamble, and gambling does provide some benefits. It has been shown that the act of gambling sharpens a range of mental talents and skills, including math ability and pattern recognition. It has also been shown to improve health and wellbeing by reducing stress levels.
But casinos aren’t just about the games themselves – they’re also a source of substantial tax revenue for their surrounding communities. These tax revenues can be used to fund local projects, protect vital services and keep taxes down elsewhere.
Casino, with its slick production values and star pairing of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, was one of the first films to leverage this growing public perception of casinos as morally grey and violent, and it was a huge success at a time when profane and violent crime was in fashion thanks to the breakthrough of Quentin Tarantino and a slew of millennial auteurs indebted to Scorsese. Even so, the film doesn’t shy away from some truly hellacious violence, from a torture-by-vice sequence to a harrowing flogging sequence that was trimmed in order not to breach NC-17 standards.