CAMEO(Frank Cullotta): the gray-haired hitman in sunglasses near the end of the movie. He was the chief lieutenant of Tony Spilotro in the late '70s, early '80s. Cullotta entered the Witness Protection Program before the "cornfield incident" took place and was not present, unlike Marino.
The blackjack "cheats" were using a technique known as "spooking". Nevada courts have mostly ruled it to be legal because it merely takes advantage of hold card information exposed by sloppy dealers.
While the movie begins by stating it is based upon a true story, it never names the actual casino involved. The Tangiers casino is fictional. The story is actually based upon the history of the Stardust casino, a fact well documented in the Vegas history books. Martin Scorsese discreetly documents this fact via the soundtrack, in which the song "Stardust" is heard three different times. An instrumental version plays during Ace and Ginger's wedding and a vocal version is heard during the scene where Remo asks Marino if Nicky and Ginger are having sex and also during the very end of the final credits.
As this was to be DP Robert Richardson's first collaboration with Martin Scorsese, the director suggested that they both watch a series of movies from Scorsese's private collection. The director was hoping to convey to his new DP the general "look" he was eager to capture for his movie. Both men viewed, and discussed, T-Men, Raw Deal and Slightly Scarlet - all shot by John Alton. Scorsese felt that Alton's photographic style in these films epitomized the film noir aura he wanted Richardson to recreate for Casino.
The character played by Frank Vincent, "Frank Marino", was based on Frank Cullotta.
The scenes outside the fictional Tangiers was filmed in front of the Landmark Hotel across from the Las Vegas Hilton, the Landmark was imploded shortly after filming.
The jewelry store owner who gets robbed by Nicky's boys is an actual Las Vegas jeweler. His line "I just got a shipment of diamonds from Israel" was not in the script.
As they were shooting scenes in Las Vegas set in the 1970s, the husband of an elderly woman extra was given a period-correct leisure suit to wear by the wardrobe department. However, instead of providing the woman with period clothes, they told her, much to her chagrin, that her out-of-date attire was just fine.
The house used for filming Sam Rothstein's residence is the actual house of 'Frank 'Lefty Rosenthal during the late-'70s. It is located in a neighborhood skirting the golf course in the Desert Inn Rd./Eastern Ave. area.
The character of K.K. Ichikawa (Nobu Matsuhisa), the Japanese highroller, is based on the life of high roller Akio Kashiwagi. During the 70's and 80's, Kashiwagi was a big scene at Las Vegas casinos. By the end of the 1980s, however, Kashiwagi had used up his casino credit, owing many casino executives, among them Donald Trump, millions of dollars. He was murdered in his home in Tokyo by the yakuza (Japanese mafia) in 1992.
To avoid the continuity problems that accompany a chain-smoking movie character, Robert De Niro always held his cigarettes the same distance from the lit end so that their lengths never appear to change.
The character based on Anthony Spilotro (Nicky Santoro) is placed in the Black Book. However, in real life, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (the inspiration for Sam "Ace" Rothstein) was the one placed in the Black Book and was run out of Las Vegas.
Martin Scorsese stated before the film's release that he created the "head in the vise" scene as a sacrifice, certain the MPAA would insist it be cut. He hoped this would draw fire away from other violent scenes that would seem less so by comparison. When the MPAA made no objection to the vise scene, he left it in, albeit slightly edited.
Sasha Semenoff, the orchestra leader seen on the "Aces High" television show, is a well known Las Vegas local. He has performed in Vegas for nearly fifty years. His quartet played the Dunes hotel in the mid 1960s; in 2003, he entertained diners at The Venetian with his violin.
After Nicky is barred from Vegas casinos, Ace and Nicky meet sixty miles outside Vegas at a bar called the Idle Spurs. The telephone number seen on the front sign of the Idle Spurs was the correct telephone number for the Idle Spurs Tavern in Las Vegas (at 1113 South Rainbow Boulevard, near the intersection of Charleston Boulevard). The telephone number remained in service years after the movie was made. The number is now disconnected.
The word "fuck" is said 422 times, including in the narration - 2.4 times per minute on average. The film also holds the Guinness world record for the most swearing in a film.
The casino scenes were shot at the Riviera between 1:00 am and 4:am so as not to get in the way of the real gamblers. Although the casino didn't want the shoot to interrupt its business, that didn't prevent it from trying to lure more punters inside by putting up a large banner that said, "Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci Filming the New Movie 'Casino' Inside!"
"Ace" Rothstein's vehicle during the bombing scenes is a 1981 Cadillac featuring the ill-fated "V 8-6-4" engine. Offered for only one year, the engine was meant to save fuel by shutting off unneeded cylinders. This can be seen in the dashboard shot of the "MPG Sentinel" and its "Active Cyls" button at the end of the movie.
After being elected the Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, who played a small part in Casino and was the attorney of 'Frank 'Lefty Rosenthal, the basis of Robert De Niro's character and who represented the Four Queens Casino/Hotel in Las Vegas created a $5 and $25 casino chip with his portrait.
In Goodfellas, Joe Pesci played a character named Tommy DeVito. This the same name as the actor who plays the crooked poker dealer.
Martin Scorsese hired actual parolees from that era as plot consultants, as well as various F.B.I. agents who had busted same parolees.
The costume budget for the film was $1 million. 'Robert de Niro' had 70 different costumes throughout the film, Sharon Stone had 40. Both actors were allowed to keep their costumes afterwards.
The blackjack cheat who gets away with the "warning" and is credited as Winner in the closing titles is played by Associate Producer and First Assistant Director Joseph Reidy.
To date (summer 2009) this is the last theatrical movie to be censored by Swedish authorities. The scene cut is the infamous "head in the vise" scene.
When James Woods heard that Martin Scorsese was interested in working with him, Woods called Scorsese's office and left the following message: "Any time, any place, any part, any fee."
Oscar Goodman, who plays Sam Rothstein's attorney, is in real life a lawyer who defended several reputed mobsters with Las Vegas connections. In June of 1999, he was elected Mayor of Las Vegas.
One of Las Vegas's most flamboyant casino operators, Bob Stupak, was originally cast to have a non-speaking role as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. However, when he demanded that he have some lines, he was quickly replaced.
Casino was filmed entirely in the Las Vegas Valley. The casino and office scenes were filmed in the famed Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip and the driving scene in the beginning of the movie was filmed on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, which is no longer open to automobile traffic.
Writer Nicholas Pileggi completed the novel after filming had already begun.
Close associates of the people portrayed in the film were on the set constantly, providing crucial and pivotal information.
German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus was originally scheduled to shoot this movie, but because of various start date delays, he accepted an offer to shoot Wolfgang Petersen's Outbreak instead.
Sharon Stone spent many long workdays in agony while filming scenes for this film. She has back trouble due to an old injury, and the gold & white beaded gown she wears during a casino scene weighed 45 pounds.
Dick Smothers' character, Senator, is partly based on Nevada Senator Harry Reid (III), who was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. The scene in which Sam Rothstein is denied a license by the Nevada Gaming Commission is based on a December 1978 hearing when Harry Reid (III) was the commission's chairman; some of Reid's statements are used in Smothers' dialogue. The scene was shot in an actual courtroom in the Clark County Courthouse, which was later closed in 2005.
According to Alan King, 'Frank 'Lefty Rosenthal, upon whom the Robert De Niro character was based, wanted Richard Widmark to play the lead in the film. However, Widmark was 80 years old by that time, and, therefore, not a practical choice.
Though this was the first joint venture Martin Scorsese had with cinematographer Robert Richardson, it wasn't the first time both men had met. Scorsese interviewed Richardson when he was after the DP position on Cape Fear, a credit that ultimately went to Freddie Francis.
The "head in a vise" scene is taken from an anecdote in the book "Casino" unrelated to the main story, describing mob enforcer Tony Spilotro's interrogation of a low-level gangster named Billy McCarthy, who had committed the unauthorized murder on the Scalvo Brothers, a pair of high-ranking mobsters within Spilotro's crime organization. Trying to get McCarthy to give up the identity of the man who helped him kill the Scalvos, Spilotro first beat McCarthy, then stabbed him in the testicles with an icepick, before finally shoving his head in a vise and crunching it to five inches wide; McCarthy didn't give up the name of his partner, Jimmy Miraglia, until Spilotro tightened the vise in such a way that one of Billy's eyes popped out. Amazingly, McCarthy survived the head-crushing long enough for Spilotro to kill him by dousing him in lighter fluid and setting him ablaze. Spilotro would remark later in life, "Billy McCarthy was the toughest guy I ever met." (Jimmy Miraglia was subsequently shot dead and put in the trunk of his own car along with Billy's corpse).
This shoot marked cinematographer Robert Richardson's first experience working in the Super 35 format. He later claimed to have been "terribly disappointed" by the quality of the release prints, and did not return to the format until Kill Bill Vol. 1.
SPOILER: When Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) is pushed into the hole in the cornfield, Pesci broke the same rib he broke during Raging Bull.
SPOILER: In the original script, Lester was supposed to be shot in the desert by Nicky as a favor for Sam.
SPOILER: Joe Pesci's character Nicky Santoro was based on real-life Chicago gangster Tony Spilotro, called the Ant. As portrayed in the movie with Nicky and his brother, Spilotro and his brother really were beaten and buried in an Indiana cornfield together in 1986.