How the Dice Rolls in Casino (1995): A Summary

Casino is headlined by Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci, and tells of a story of money, power, greed, murder, and deception between two mobster friends. It is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi. It is directed by Martin Scorsese and was released in theatres on November 22, 1995.

In the movie, Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein and Nicky Santoro, played by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci respectively, are mobsters who move to Las Vegas set on making their mark. Ace handles the Tangiers casino, while Nicky goes around robbing and shaking down the locals. Down the road, Ace falls in love with Ginger, played by Sharon Stone, who is a hustler. Meanwhile, Nicky falls into a spiral of drugs and violence.

Known as a gambling handicapper, Ace was asked to run the Tangiers casino. Ace reluctantly agrees and then brings in his old casino friend Billy Sherbert to be the casino manager. The bosses then send Ace’s childhood friend Nicky and his right-hand Marino to monitor the goings-on in the casino. Ace’s life is changed when he meets and falls in love with Ginger, who works at the casinos and eventually they wed.

Nicky, on the other hand, starts hustling bookies and forms a crew in the casinos to rip them off. Nicky’s actions get him in the “black book,” which bans him from any and all casinos in Las Vegas. But this doesn’t stop Nicky. Soon, he brings his brother Dominick into his crew, and opens up a jewelry store called the Gold Rush. However, Nicky still has his criminal ways and at night he performs burglaries and stores and houses.

The film’s first hour details the characters’ rise to power, while the second half follows their undoing as angry mob bosses, the FBI, and corrupt government officials pick them apart. They fall in a downward spiral as their lives get very messy. The film outlines the complexities of casino cheating, the link between casino profits and mob bosses, and the dirty etiquette that rules Las Vegas, from its politicians all the way down to its valet parkers. It would be interesting to see modern times adaptation of this movie with all online casinos and their background of operation. Maybe they have mafia involved too?

The film was met with a mostly positive critical response.  It made the cut in reviews with Rotten Tomatoes giving it an 81% “Fresh” rating (based on 57 reviews) and Metacritic handing it a 73 out of 100 (based on 17 reviews). The film was a box-office success, made on a $50 million budget, and making $116 million worldwide.

Sharon Stone won a Golden Globe for ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama’ for her portrayal of Ginger. She was also nominated in the Oscars for ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role.’ Martin Scorsese, on the other hand, was nominated for the Golden Globe for ‘Best Director-Motion Picture’ and another best director nomination in the CFCA Awards, where Sharon Stone was also nominated for best actress. In total, the film garnered 3 wins and 8 nominations. It is truly a work of art.