The main hall of the casino used to be a ballroom. Now, a Mexican band is taking a break amid the traditional interior decoration. Marlowe spots Mrs. Regan across the room as he leans on the bar. The bartender watches her too, telling Marlowe that Mrs. Regan is having a lucky night.
Previously a grand ballroom, the main hall of the casino is a warped version of its former self, its glory replaced with illicit decadence, reflecting the moral decay permeating the city.
Two other men come to the bar, exclaiming about Mrs. Regan’s incredible run at the roulette table. The man running the roulette table tells Mrs. Regan loudly that the table cannot meet her bet. Marlowe wanders over.
Mrs. Regan is outdoing the casino itself in pursuing self-indulgence. Reckless and wild, wealthy Mrs. Regan has money to burn and gambles unrestrainedly, knowing her family name will not be smeared given her connections.
Money is strewn across the table in front of Mrs. Regan, who looks paler than usual. She is angry that the table doesn’t have the money to cover her bet. Eddie Mars appears, well-dressed as usual, to top up the table’s cash.
Mrs. Regan and Eddie Mars belong to a social elite that can throw stacks of money onto a table, knowing they might not get it back. Yet Mrs. Regan shows sign of strain, suggesting she has come to the table to relieve some form of stress.
Mars suggests arranging for someone to drive Mrs. Regan home, and she blushes. She demands to put all of her money, $16,000, on red, “the color of blood.”
Mrs. Regan has death on the mind—perhaps that of Owen Taylor, Joe Brody, or Geiger, or perhaps fears for her husband.
Everyone watches as the croupier counts the money and sets the ball rolling. Red wins. Mrs. Regan laughs. Mars smiles. The crowd breathes and leaves.
Mars’s dignified response to his and the casino’s loss suggests he has the cash to spare. But the crowd looks on in awe at the high stakes.
Marlowe leaves before Mrs. Regan, and takes a walk outside, toward a cliff over the sea. As he passes through some trees, Marlowe hears a man cough. Marlowe hides, and sees that the man is masked.
Even on a casual stroll on a cliff by the sea, Marlowe has his guard up, expecting the unseen man to be an enemy. He is right.