29th Sep2017

Casino (1995): Based on Real Life Events

by James Smith


In Martin Scorsese’s 1995 classic, Casino, Robert De Niro plays Sam Rothstein, a sports handicapper working for the Italian Mafia who goes to Las Vegas to help them run the Tangiers casino. Accompanying Rothstein is Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, a mob enforcer who grew up with Rothstein and serves as his friend and muscle.

While this sounds like a perfectly reasonable set up for a movie, it may come across a little farfetched if you were to be told it actually happened. But just like the movie claims, it’s based on real events that actually occurred to Frank Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotro, the inspiration for Sam and Nicky respectively.

The pair went out to Las Vegas on behalf of the mob, fell out and Rosenthal married a woman called Geri McGee, who, in the movie, is called Ginger McKenna. Geri is played by Sharon Stone in a performance that earned her a Golden Globe.

The larger than life elements of the film are also, almost completely, based on real events that actually happened to Rosenthal, Spilotro and McGee. From the meticulous way Sam ran his casinos (and the fact he didn’t have a license while doing so), to Nicky’s violent moods (as well as his eventual demise) and Ginger’s lavish excesses and lifestyle (including the scene where she throws piles of chips into the air), nearly the entire film is based on events that actually occurred!

These days casinos are much safer without mobsters working behind the scenes.  There are also several online casinos in the UK where you can play the same games and many more, without the hassle and expense of travelling.

Below is a slideshow of some of the best scenes that all happened in real-life:


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