Casino is director Martin Scorsese dialing Goodfellas up to 11. It’s about Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), who runs the fictional Tangiers hotel-casino in Las Vegas for the mob elders back East. He’s got a gambling license in hand and a full roster of casino games, including black jack, roulette, craps, and keno. He’s making billions of dollars in profit every year. But the mob is after him, too.

The Casino is a movie about greed and betrayal, but it’s also about the art of creating a world. Scorsese and screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi did their homework, with extensive interviews of real casino owners, workers, and gamblers. They filmed in a number of actual casinos, and made a point to dress the extras in authentic 70’s costumes. They created a dazzling world of noise, light, and excitement, with waiters offering alcoholic drinks, snacks, and nonalcoholic beverages. The casino also has an aroma and a certain feel that draws people in and makes them stay.

The casino’s designers are expert in how to make a room look inviting and attractive, using colors, shapes, and design to create a mood that keeps gamblers on the premises longer and betting more money. It also employs gaming mathematicians and computer programmers to analyze the house edge and variance for all of its games. This kind of in-house expertise is rare, and many casinos use outside firms for this work. This allows the casino to focus on its gaming operations and maintain a high level of customer service.