AGA, Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation butt Heads over “Runner, Runner”
Since being released on September 25th, the film Runner, Runner has given general audiences a negative view of the online gambling industry. The controversial movie tells the story of a college student named Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), who loses his tuition money through online poker. However, Furst realizes that he was cheated and confronts the poker site’s owner, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), in Costa Rica. Furst ends up accepting a job from Block, which exposes him to a world of corruption and deceit.
In order to put a positive spin on this story, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has said that Runner, Runner should be viewed as a cautionary tale. Going further, they believe this film shows what can happen when the federal government fails to legalize and regulate online gaming.
This stance has angered the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation, which believes the recent AGA advertisements involving Runner, Runner are sending the wrong message. SPGF director Les Bernal said, “Casino operators now hope to expand another key demographic to their base: young people, especially those of college age, which is why the AGA greedily seized upon Runner, Runner.” Bernal went on to say that the ads were misleading and should be taken off the air.
David Levien and Brian Koppelman, who wrote Runner, Runner and the 1998 cult poker classic Rounders, have a different opinion on the AGA’s spin. In an interview with Reuters, the famed Hollywood writers said that they found it amusing how the AGA managed to spin Runner, Runner.
Having been out in theaters for 10 days, Runner, Runner has failed to generate much interest at the box office. Boasting a $30 million production budget, the movie has made just $14 million so far. What’s particularly disappointing is the domestic gross of $2,750,000.