Gambling in one form or another has been a part of human culture for millennia. Archeologists have uncovered wooden blocks used in games of chance, dice popped up around 500 BC and playing cards came into use in 800 AD. The earliest casinos were simply betting houses where people could place bets on events that might or might not happen. Modern casinos are often a combination of gambling and entertainment. They offer slot machines, poker, blackjack and other table games. They also feature restaurants and bars. Many casinos are located in cities with large populations, such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Reno.

Most casino games have a mathematical edge for the house, which means that even the biggest bettors cannot win more than the casino can afford to pay. To compensate for this, the house offers inducements to players. These include free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters and reduced-fare transportation. For games that have a skill element, such as blackjack and poker, the house earns money through a commission, called the rake.

There are no good guys in Casino, director Martin Scorsese’s tale of greed and treachery. The violence and avarice of the main characters is disturbing. But the film is a powerful and persuasive depiction of human tragedy.