Whether it’s the drama of an elaborate heist or a story about an all-too-human gambler, casino movies can hold our attention. But what makes a good one? What does it take to create a film that will become timeless like Casino, which is still being screened at movie theaters and has earned the status of a classic?

A major component of a casino’s revenue is the money it collects from patrons who play games of chance and in some cases skill. These bets have mathematically determined odds that give the casino an advantage. This edge can be a tiny percentage, but it’s enough to cover the cost of casinos with fountains, pyramids, and towers, along with extravagant hotels and rooms. Casinos also make money through the rake of slot machine payouts and by giving patrons complimentary items or comps.

Something about gambling seems to encourage people to cheat, steal and scam their way into a jackpot. That’s why casinos spend so much time, effort and money on security. Elaborate surveillance systems with cameras in the ceiling watch every table, window and doorway. They can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a room filled with banks of monitors. In addition, casino floor routines and patterns—the location of the betting spots on a blackjack table or the expected reactions of players to certain events—provide clues that can be used by security to identify suspects. Adding to these visual cues are the absence of windows and clocks, which allow patrons to lose track of time and spend hours at the tables without realizing it.