Casino: A Gambling Film Review (part1)

Posted: July 27, 2015

Updated: October 6, 2017

Based on the life of Frank Rosenthal who operated three casinos in Las Vegas.

“Casino” is a film that was directed by Martin Scorsese in 1995. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the non-fiction novel from which the film was based. The two also wrote the Oscar winning film “Goodfellas”, which made U.S. gambling news in 1990. The film stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, who have already collaborated on “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull.” The film marked De Niro and Scorsese’s eighth film together.

• Casino is based on the non-fiction novel written by Nicholas Pileggi
• Sam “Ace” Rothstein is based on real life Vegas handicapper Frank Rosenthal
• Casino is about the relationships between Ace, his wife and friend Nicky

The story is an account of real-life Vegas handicapper, Frank Rosenthal, who was hired by a Chicago Maffia ring to operate the Stardust, Fremont and Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas through the 1970’s. Although the film proved successful, making USD 116 million worldwide, it was criticized for its violence. Actress Sharon Stone received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. Scorsese received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.

Ace runs the Tangier Casino and gives money to the Chicago Outfit

Sam “Ace” Rothstein is a Jewish American handicapper. Remo Gaggi is boss of the Chicago Outfit, an organized criminal unit. Andy Stone, head of the Teamster’s Pension Fund, is asked by the Chicago Outfit to allocate USD 60 million in order to fund the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. Although the project is headed by crooked real estate agent Philip Green, Stone is actually directing the project.

de Niro Sam “Ace” Rothstein

Sam “Ace” Rothstein p0layed by Robert de Niro (Photo: Casino)

John Nance has been given the task of going to the Tangier monthly to skim money from the casino’s earnings and deliver it to a grocery store in Kansas City, where he meets the Outfit bosses. The Outfit bosses ask Ace to run the Tangiers casino. The well known handicapper brings his friend Billy Sherbert with him to Vegas and employs him as the casino manager.

In order to guarantee Ace’s contributions, his friend Nicky Santoro and Frank Marino are sent by the bosses to keep them informed on all gambling news. Soon Ace falls in love with a casino hustler named Ginger. Although she remains attached to her pimp, she agrees to marry Ace and have his baby. Nicky proves to be unpredictable and violent while Ace tends to show more reserve. Nicky, hungry for more action, forms his own group and starts hustling the casinos.

Joe Pesci Nick Santoro

Nicky Santoro played by Joe Pesci (Photo: Casino)

Even though Ace warns Nicky of the gaming commission, he ignores his friend and his caught and banned from all the casinos in Vegas. A more persistent Nicky brings his brother and some old friends to Vegas to set up burglary ring while legitimately operating a jewelry store. In order to satisfy the bosses, Nicky sends money from his businesses to Kansas City. As a result the bosses give Nicky assignments such as killing people when it’s necessary.

Nicky goes out of control and Ace loses his gaming license petition

Ace fires his floor manager for a missing a scam. Don Ward and his brother-in-law, who’s the County Commissioner asks Ace to rehire Ward, but Ace refuses. Ace starts to have Ginger followed after she asked by USD 25,000 and finds out she’s in communication with Lester, her old pimp. Ace has him beaten up and told to stay away from Ginger.

Some men in the counting room at the Tangiers were skimming money from the bosses’ cut and Artie Piscano is sent to check everything out. A former partner of Green’s demands a cut of the revenue from the casino and ends up going to court and opening a case. Ace, who claimed to operate the casino in Green’s absence, revealed by a magazine that he doesn’t have a gaming license. Nicky threatens Ace’s banker and is warned by the bosses to calm his actions.

Nicky plans to take over the whole operation as retaliation. Piscano complains more about having to make routine trips to Vegas using his own money. After the bosses offer little assistance, Piscano starts writing down an inventory of his trip and the money spent. Little does his know that the FBI has been wire tapping all the conversations in the Kansas City grocery the whole time. As a result of Ace not rehiring Ward as floor manager, he was denied his gaming license with the help of the County Commissioner.

Ace, who cannot operate the casino due to U.S. gambling laws, starts a TV talk show where he discusses his lawsuit with the gaming board. Nicky proves to be out of control and he and Ace have an altercation at the Tangiers. Ginger files for divorce as Ace complains of her alcoholism and her ability to properly care for their child Amy. Ginger, whose now addicted to cocaine, and Lester plan to kidnap Amy. Ginger goes to Nicky and he presents her case to Ace.

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