When you’re at a casino, the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement. The music is upbeat and the crowd is energetic, all while players take turns trying their luck at games like blackjack, roulette and poker. There’s no telling when luck will strike, and this is what keeps people coming back.

Casino, a 1995 film from Martin Scorsese, captures the atmosphere of the modern casino. It comes at a time when criminal worldviews were reimagined by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Boogie Nights, and the gangster film genre was undergoing something of a renaissance. The movie stars Robert De Niro as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, the owner of the Tangiers casino in Las Vegas who is a principled old-school operator.

The film’s early sequences, with their echoes of Goodfellas’ Copacabana interlude, encapsulate the rough-edged worldview of wise-guy street life, but even the movie’s villainous depiction of Ace and Nicky cannot be confused for a romanticization of the crime business. Rather, it conveys a distrust of the way things used to be, along with a healthy skepticism about what will replace them.

In the twenty-first century, casinos are much choosier about their money. They concentrate their investments on big-stakes gamblers, who are called “high rollers.” High rollers spend tens of thousands of dollars at the tables, and casinos calculate that they will earn enough in gross profit to cover these bettors’ losses. These gamblers also receive comps, including free hotel rooms, shows, limo service and airline tickets.