Runner Runner is the first movie about gambling that doesn’t involve lots of scenes inside land-based casinos and instead focuses on the possibilities of what could go on behind the scenes of online casino and poker sites. It’s obviously inspired in part by the increased popularity of sites like 32Red online casino where gamers can find all their favourite casino games in one place and accessible through one account.
Released in the summer of 2013, the movie starred Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. The story begins with Timberlake’s character, Richie Furst, gambling online to fund his college education at Princeton. However, he’s caught gambling on campus and is threatened with expulsion for doing so. Without his gambling to fund his education, though, Furst has no other options. So he decides to put everything in on one last game of poker, in order to win enough so that he no longer needs to gamble.
However, on his big gamble he loses everything and he is convinced that he has been cheated by the site that he’s playing on. As he already has nothing else to lose, he decides to head down to Costa Rica to confront the owner of the site – a guy named Ivan Block, played by Affleck – to try and get and his money back.
Enter the glamorous location shots that you might not otherwise have expected in a movie about online gaming, most of which takes place in ordinary people’s houses! Costa Rica provides the perfect backdrop for many of the scenes that then follow, as we see Furst get tangled up in a web spun by Block. At first, he is given a fantastically-paid, too good to be true job by Block to become part of the company, Midnight Black, that he thought had cheated him. For a short while they enjoy the high life together, with Block taking Furst under his wing like a protégé.
However, things soon start to turn bad for Furst as he realises he has been brought in by Block to take a fall, to take the rap for Block’s dodgy dealings. He is kidnapped by a rogue FBI agent who is after Block, but working out of jurisdiction in Costa Rica. The FBI agent wants Furst to help him entrap Block. Meanwhile, he starts to fall in love with Block’s ex-girlfriend – played by Gemma Arterton.
Added to the plot, there are the local Costa Rican gangsters and officials who all have beefs with Block, too, and it begins to look like Furst will never get out of Costa Rica in one piece. But you’ll have to watch the movie to see how it all turns out.
Watching a movie like Runner Runner, you have to remember of course, that in the real world, sites like 32red are heavily regulated and that you’re as safe as houses having a few rounds of your favourite casino games sitting on the sofa!Image by Todd Klassy