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Is the movie 'Casino' based on real events? We've taken a look at some of the facts and compared them to the movie to find out.

Is the movie ‘Casino’ based on a real story?

The movie Casino remains one of the most successful films in American history. It’s based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book ‘Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas’ and follows the story of Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), an American Jewish gangster who is sent to Las Vegas to oversee the Tangiers Casino and increase its profits. The plot was inspired by the real-life events of Frank Rosenthal who managed three casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago mob in the 1970s and 1980s.

Casino was directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, the mastermind behind plenty of other mafia-related movie productions, and stars actors such as Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, and James Woods. Casino achieved a box office earnings of $116 million, which was already double of the relatively low production budget of $50 million. 

Since the movie mixes real-life events with fiction, you might find yourself asking which bits of Casino are true. With the help of Sister Sites, a comparison site for Internet casinos, we present you the scenes that remained unaltered by the screenplay writers.

Rosenthal did not hold a gambling license

In the movie, De Niro’s character Ace Rothstein does not possess a gambling license although he’s overseeing the entire casino operations. This fact is true! Frank Rosenthal never owned a gambling permit since it was too dangerous for him to apply. Instead, he was officially employed in a non-managerial position, which didn’t require such a license.

The Tangiers Casino is an actual resort in Las Vegas

This is true! Scorsese did not want to waste money on building a set when there was an actual casino that could be used for shooting the scenes. While there is no ‘Tangiers’ casino in Las Vegas, the film crew used the Riviera casino in Downtown Las Vegas

Rosenthal survived an attempted murder

Correct! In Casino, Rothstein (De Niro) survives a car bombing, and this scene remains unaltered. In 1982, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was injured when a bomb situated below his car exploded. Although it was a huge explosion, Rosenthal walked away with minor burns to his legs, left arm, and left side of his face. According to one special agent, the reason Rosenthal survived the attempted murder was since the bomb exploded in the wrong direction.

The Chicago mob killed one of the Casino’s accountants in Costa Rica

In the movie, the mob hunts down an accountant and former executive of the Tangiers Casino and ultimately kills him in Costa Rica. This murder is based on real-life events. John Nance was a low-level accountant who also served as the mafia’s bagman, collecting money from several Las Vegas casinos and handing them to mafia bosses such as Joey Aiuppa in Kansas.

When his son got arrested for drug possession, the mafia feared that Nance would turn into a state witness against the mob in return for a better deal for his son’s drug charges. He fled to Central America, but was hunted down and eventually killed.

Geri McGee died of a drug overdose

Casino shows Rothstein’s wife, Ginger McKenna, die of a drug overdose in a motel. Not only was Geri McGee’s involvement in criminal activity accurately portrayed in the movie but also her death. McKenna died in 1982 at the age of 46 at the Beverly Sunset Hotel. Although her sister believed McGee had been murdered by the mob because “she knew too much”, the coroner ruled it an accidental overdose. A postmortem examination showed a lethal mix of cocaine, Valium and alcohol in her system.

 

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