Casinos to spin Timberlake, Affleck poker film as cautionary tale

Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:00pm EDT
 
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck have Las Vegas on edge.

They are the stars of a new film about the murky world of unauthorized online poker that could cast an unwelcome spotlight on a fledgling legal market that Sin City's biggest players are betting on.

Timberlake is set to walk the red carpet with other celebrities at Caesars' Planet Hollywood next month in Las Vegas for the premiere of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's "Runner, Runner." The movie opens on October4 in the United States.

In the movie, Affleck plays an online gambling tycoon in Costa Rica confronted by Timberlake, a graduate student who believes he's been swindled by the gaming site.

It is a departure from the run of films like the "Hangover" series and "Ocean's 11" that glamorized casinos and the Las Vegas Strip.

"People very well could get the wrong idea," said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance. "Not all offshore operators are unregulated bad guys. This is a dramatization, lets be clear about that. It shows what could be happening in a worst-case scenario."

Industry groups like the American Gaming Association are preparing advertising and discussion screenings around the film's release, to draw a distinction between its portrayal of the seedy trappings of global online poker, and a federally regulated market they're trying to plug.

A legal, well-supervised market safeguards against fraud and cheating, and increases revenues, its proponents argue.   Continued...

 
Director Ben Affleck holds his best picture award for his film "Argo" at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscars Party in West Hollywood, California February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok