Beneath the veneer of flashing lights and free drinks, casinos are mathematically engineered to slowly bleed patrons of their cash. It’s an unavoidable fact that no matter how many tables you play, the house will win in the long run. And it’s something that many mathematically inclined minds have spent a great deal of time trying to reverse engineer, with varying degrees of success.

In the world of casino marketing, demographic information is king. Knowing your audience’s age, income, and education are useful indicators of what sort of gaming experiences they will enjoy. But the data can only take you so far — it’s important to understand why a particular group of people will visit your establishment.

James Woods is funny as a lowlife con-man and Vinny Vella delivers a memorable turn as Artie Piscano, but Sharon Stone takes home the gold with her portrayal of sexy gambler Ginger McKenna. Casino is a better film than Goodfellas, and a lot more focused, with an excellent story that explains how the mafia lost control of Vegas.

At three hours long, it’s one of Martin Scorsese’s longest movies, but it never lags or runs out of steam. The acting is top-notch with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci giving their best performances in a long time. And though the soundtrack doesn’t exactly mesh with the action, Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun” work well enough.