A casino is more than just a place to gamble and play games of chance. It is also a place to socialize, drink and mingle with friends and fellow players. There is always a buzz in the air as coins clinke, champagne glasses clink, and music blares. The energy is infectious and even the most jaded of individuals will have trouble staying away from the tables and slots.

Gambling has been a part of human civilization for millennia. Evidence of dice games goes back to 2300 BC, while playing cards first appeared in the 1400s. While some people are just there to try their luck, most of the visitors are there for one reason – they want to have fun. Casinos help create this atmosphere by offering a wide range of games to choose from and creating a fun environment with their lights, music and decorations.

It has happened to all of us – you stride into the Luxor, Mohegan Sun or Tropicana with your wallet filled with cash and plans for some enjoyable, sensible gaming and maybe two rounds of drinks. Hours later you have no idea what time it is or what your bankroll has become. It’s called the “sunk cost fallacy” and it is an example of how casinos manipulate their patrons to keep them spending more money.

Casinos use many tricks to encourage their customers to spend more than they intend. In addition to the music and lights, their games have mathematically determined odds that give them an advantage over their customers. This is known as the house edge, and it is uniformly negative (except in games that have an element of skill, such as blackjack). The house also earns a percentage of the bets made on its machines through a commission called the rake.

While most of the people in the casino are there to win, the fact is that most of them will lose. This is the nature of gambling, which is why it is important to know some basic strategy and have a few tricks up your sleeve.

Unlike other movies about Las Vegas that gloss over the city’s mob history and focus on its current opulence, Casino gives an in-depth look at how big gambling corporations took over this desert town. Scorsese’s epic drama is not for the faint of heart, and his depiction of greed, treachery and avarice is both realistic and compelling.

The movie is not without its flaws, though. The violence in the film is over-the-top, but that’s a small price to pay for such an honest portrayal of this fascinating city and the people who built it. The performances of De Niro and Sharon Stone are top-notch, and Joe Pesci’s characterization of a slimy mafia boss is uncanny. It is a great movie and well worth the watch.