Brad Furman’s Runner Runner, influenced in part by the real life experiences of poker player Nat Arem, exposed the dangers of online gambling. Now gamers ask: where is it safe to play…
Runner Runner, which was released on October 4th, is a brave new film which exposes the world of off-shore based online gambling, and the risks that it poses for those who become involved in it. One of the main characters, played by Justin Timberlake, is a Princeton student who takes to online gambling as a way to pay himself through college. He is eventually cheated out of his entire college fund by the owner of the site, played by Ben Affleck, and goes to confront him. However, the shady tycoon promises him that he will earn huge sums of money, and they end up in business together.
In an event that has become known as Black Friday, when online gambling was criminalised in America in 2011, the online gambling world was seriously affected. This lead to the rise of a gambling black market, and a huge amount of offshore based gambling sites which do not have to observe any rules or regulations regarding consumer safety or responsible gambling. American’s spent $2.6bn via these offshore sites last year, and that figure is set to grow. If American money is being siphoned off to these offshore sites, then eventually that stand to seriously damage the economy.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has launched a campaign to legalise online gambling, in order to offer those who wish to gamble online some protection against fraud, and to prevent instances of underage gambling. The association has set up a Runner Runner microsite, which contains information about offshore sites, and a short documentary about the risks of the online gambling black market. The AGA hopes to replicate the success of the UK gambling market with many reputable brands that run safe operations.
Some states, including Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, have since authorised some forms of online gambling, in order to bring some money back into the regulated industry. It is predicted that other states will follow suit to reverse the dramatic legislation that banned all forms of online gambling in 2011.
Caesars Entertainment Corp and MGM Resorts International have launched ad campaigns on networks such as Google and Facebook in a bid to change the law and bring about new regulations regarding online gambling. It is important that the world of online gambling is brought onside with consumers in order to keep internet users safe from the kind of fraud shown in Runner Runner.