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How Real Is 'Runner, Runner'?

Runner, Runner is a new movie starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake that’s set against the glamorous backdrop of the offshore internet gambling world.
In the film, Timberlake plays an American college student who believes he’s been cheated out of his college nest egg by a less-than-scrupulous online poker site.
Once his money’s gone, Timberlake boards a plane headed for Costa Rica, where the site is based.When he arrives, his moxie impresses the site’s owner (Affleck) enough that he hires him on the spot. But something isn’t right on the island and Timberlake quickly finds himself in over his head with an organized criminal gang.
Though, Runner, Runner isn’t a true story, the American Gaming Association (AGA) took advantage of the film’s release to warn their fellow countrymen about the dangers of unregulated gambling. In a press release, AGA President and CEO, Geoff Freeman said:

‘Runner Runner’ is a fictional account of a lawless online poker world ruled by shady and unethical characters that sadly is not far from reality for millions of Americans who simply want to enjoy one of our favorite pastimes in a safe online environment

So is Freeman on the money here? And if he is, how much of the online poker world is ruled by these shady and unethical characters?
Given the AGA’s agenda, and largely land-based membership, it’s not surprising that Freeman’s less-than-enthusiastic about offshore gaming. Though his statements paint the industry with broad stroke, there are a couple kernels of truth in his words.
You don’t have dig too deeply into the forums on sites like Casinomeister to find stories that aren’t too far from what Freeman describes. But no amount of digging is going to turn up a story that remotely resembles, Runner, Runner.
What you’re more likely to find than elaborate cheating schemes are a small number of offshore sites that simply do everything they can to avoid paying out big winners.
The fact is, offshore operators don’t need to rig their games to rake in big bucks because, like all casino operators, they’ve already got the odds stacked in their favor.

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Runner, Runner’s vision of organized crime in igaming does carry a hint of truth, but it’s still extremely exaggerated. While there’s no doubt that organized crime dips its fingers in the igaming world; it seems like sports betting and soccer match fixing are their specialty, not poker.

At the end of the day, Runner, Runner looks like a fun, but not particularly accurate, look at the igaming world. (But just to be on the safe side, we suggest that you only send players to CAP Certified operators!)