Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A gripping true story of the rise and fall of the mob in Las Vegas.

Casino by Nicholas Pileggi: A Riveting Tale of Power, Greed, and Deception


In his gripping non-fiction book Casino, Nicholas Pileggi takes readers on a thrilling journey into the inner workings of the mafia and the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. Published in 1995, this book serves as the basis for the iconic Martin Scorsese film of the same name. Pileggi, an investigative journalist, delves into the true story of the rise and fall of the mafia-controlled casinos in Las Vegas during the 1970s and 1980s.

Brief Synopsis

Casino is both a thrilling crime story and an in-depth exploration of the dark underbelly of the gambling industry. Pileggi paints a vivid picture of the setting, transporting readers to the extravagant casinos of Las Vegas. The story primarily revolves around three main characters: Anthony Spilotro, a ruthless enforcer for the Chicago Outfit; Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, a brilliant handicapper and casino operator; and Geri McGee, a beautiful hustler and Rosenthal's wife.

Set against the backdrop of the Mafia's control over the casinos, the book unravels a tale of power struggles, deception, and greed. Pileggi masterfully weaves together a narrative that explores the complex relationships between the mob, the casinos, and the corrupt politicians and law enforcement officials. As the story unfolds, readers are taken on a roller-coaster ride through the high-stakes world of gambling, where fortunes are made and lost in the blink of an eye.

Main Characters

Anthony SpilotroRuthless enforcer for the Chicago Outfit
Frank "Lefty" RosenthalBrilliant handicapper and casino operator
Geri McGeeBeautiful hustler and Rosenthal's wife

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1: The Birth of Las Vegas

In this chapter, Pileggi sets the stage by providing a historical overview of Las Vegas and its transformation from a small desert town into a gambling mecca. He introduces readers to the key players who shaped the city's early years and lays the foundation for the mafia's eventual takeover of the casinos.

Chapter 2: The Chicago Outfit

Pileggi delves into the origins and operations of the Chicago Outfit, one of the most powerful mafia organizations in the United States. He introduces Anthony Spilotro, a feared enforcer for the Outfit, and explores his rise to prominence within the organization.

Chapter 3: Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal

This chapter focuses on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, a charismatic and shrewd gambler who becomes a key figure in the Las Vegas casino scene. Pileggi explores Rosenthal's unique talents as a handicapper and his eventual partnership with the mafia-controlled casinos.

Chapter 4: Geri McGee

Geri McGee enters the picture as a beautiful and ambitious hustler who captivates Rosenthal. Pileggi explores their tumultuous relationship and the role Geri plays in Rosenthal's casino operations.

Chapter 5: The Stardust

Pileggi takes readers inside the Stardust Casino, one of the most profitable and heavily mafia-controlled establishments in Las Vegas. He provides a detailed account of the inner workings of the casino and the various illegal activities that take place under the mob's watchful eye.

Chapter 6: The FBI Investigation

As the mafia's grip on Las Vegas tightens, the FBI launches an investigation into the casinos' illicit activities. Pileggi explores the cat-and-mouse game between the FBI agents and the mob figures, highlighting the challenges faced by the law enforcement officials.

Chapter 7: The Tension Escalates

Tensions between the various factions involved in the Las Vegas casino scene reach a boiling point. Pileggi delves into the power struggles, betrayals, and acts of violence that ultimately lead to the downfall of the mafia-controlled casinos.

Main Events

  1. The rise of the mafia-controlled casinos in Las Vegas
  2. Anthony Spilotro's enforcer activities for the Chicago Outfit
  3. Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal's partnership with the mafia and his casino operations
  4. Geri McGee's involvement with Rosenthal and the impact on their relationship
  5. The inner workings of the Stardust Casino and its illegal activities
  6. The FBI investigation into the mafia-controlled casinos
  7. The escalating tensions and power struggles within the Las Vegas casino scene

Themes and Insights

Casino explores themes of power, greed, corruption, and the allure of the gambling industry. Pileggi provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of the mafia and the lengths they went to control the lucrative casinos in Las Vegas. The book also sheds light on the dark side of the gambling industry, exposing the underbelly of corruption and the intertwining of organized crime and legitimate businesses.

Reader's Takeaway

Casino is a captivating and eye-opening account of the mafia's control over the Las Vegas casinos. Pileggi's meticulous research and engaging storytelling bring the characters and events to life, making the book a must-read for fans of true crime and those interested in the history of Las Vegas. Readers will be left with a deeper understanding of the power dynamics at play and the complex relationships that shaped the city's gambling industry.


Nicholas Pileggi's Casino offers readers an enthralling look into the dark underbelly of the gambling industry during the mafia's reign in Las Vegas. With its compelling characters, intricate plot, and insightful exploration of power and corruption, this book is a true page-turner. Whether you are a fan of true crime or simply curious about the inner workings of the casino world, Casino is a must-read that will leave you both entertained and enlightened.

Casino FAQ

  1. Who is the author of 'Casino'?

    The author of 'Casino' is Nicholas Pileggi.

  2. What is the genre of 'Casino'?

    'Casino' is a non-fiction book categorized under True Crime and Biography genres.

  3. Is 'Casino' based on a true story?

    Yes, 'Casino' is based on a true story. It explores the rise and fall of the mob-controlled Las Vegas casino empire.

  4. What is the main theme of 'Casino'?

    The main theme of 'Casino' is the underworld of Las Vegas casinos, focusing on the mob's influence and control over the gambling industry.

  5. What is the book's plot summary?

    The book 'Casino' tells the story of the mob's involvement in Las Vegas casinos, specifically focusing on the lives of Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal, a professional sports bettor, and Anthony Spilotro, a ruthless enforcer. It explores their rise to power, their control over the casinos, and their eventual downfall.

  6. Are there any notable characters in 'Casino'?

    Yes, 'Casino' features notable characters such as Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal, Anthony Spilotro, and other influential figures involved in the Las Vegas casino industry.

  7. Is 'Casino' a standalone book or part of a series?

    'Casino' is a standalone book. It is not part of a series.

  8. Has 'Casino' been adapted into a film?

    Yes, 'Casino' has been adapted into a film directed by Martin Scorsese and released in 1995. The film stars Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci.

  9. Where can I buy a copy of 'Casino'?

    You can buy a copy of 'Casino' online from various book retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from local bookstores.

  10. Is 'Casino' available as an e-book or audiobook?

    Yes, 'Casino' is available as an e-book and audiobook format. You can find digital versions on platforms like Kindle or Audible.