The word casino comes from the Latin caucus, which means “bag” or “purse.” Casinos are places where a wide variety of games of chance are played. They are often very lavish, with restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. But even less extravagant places that house gambling activities are called casinos, and some of them have a long history.

Most people associate the term casino with Las Vegas, and for good reason: it’s a glamorous city of opulence, neon signs, and throngs of gamblers putting their money where their mouth is. But it wasn’t always that way. Until Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, there were few casinos anywhere in the world.

Martin Scorsese’s Casino, released in 1995, tells the story of Sam ”Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and his mob-connected Tangiers casino in Las Vegas. The movie also focuses on his relationship with girlfriend Ginger (Sharon Stone) and his friend Nicky Santoro, a made man of the Mafia.

While some of the movie’s violence is over-the-top, it accurately reflects the gangland culture of the period. And despite its length, the film never lags or runs out of steam. Its taut pace and masterful editing keep it a lean, mean thriller from beginning to end.