Could a movie about online poker convince US federal politicians to rethink their longstanding objection to regulating the game? The new boss of the American Gaming Association (AGA) appears to think it’s possible. Earlier this month, the AGA appeared to have all but given up hope of swaying federal pols, but new AGA chief exec Geoff Freeman (pictured right) now says the US brick-and-mortar casino lobby group intends to “capitalize upon” the Oct. 4 release of Runner Runner – the movie scripted by the writers of beloved poker movie Rounders and starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake – to convince pols of the desperate need for regulation.
In an internal AGA email obtained by Nevada scribe Jon Ralston, Freeman tells his board members that Runner Runner’s plot revolves around “illegal online poker and unscrupulous offshore operators, dramatically underscoring the risk American consumers face in a poorly-regulated market.” (Given that Runner Runner’s trailer depicts Affleck’s character feeding someone to crocodiles, “unscrupulous” is something of an understatement.) Freeman goes on to say that the film’s theme “underscores the AGA’s message to lawmakers” about the need for federal regulations and possibly the need to hunt crocodiles to extinction.
Freeman states that the AGA is planning to “leverage” Runner Runner’s media coverage to raise awareness of AGA talking points. While the AGA’s strategy is still being formulated, “tactics” could range from releasing research on the volume of illegal online gambling activity in the US, “driving theater-goers to the AGA website” for further talking point indoctrination and holding “discussion screenings for targeted audiences.” Freeman assures the board that the campaign will be “strategic, nuanced and consistent with the position of our Board.”
Frankly, this is so crazy it just might work. We’re talking about Congress, after all. These are the same numbskulls who blithely swallowed the tall tale of those dastardly Iraqi soldiers removing newborn babies from incubators during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, mainly because the young girl that made the claim – later revealed as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US – managed to squirt a few tears while reading her melodramatic script. With any luck, the AGA’s ‘discussion screenings’ will feature a blubbering Gary Loveman delivering tearful testimony about the time he watched Isai Scheinberg pull the wings off flies, then fed the flies to crocodiles.
But hey, why stop there? Tea Party groups likely missed out on a golden opportunity to equate Brad Pitt’s zombie invasion movie World War Z with the need for a border fence to keep out those unwelcome hordes of invading Mexican migrant laborers. The upcoming release of the Anchorman sequel could help convince Congress to pass a law banning lamestream media figures from hosting GOP presidential primary debates. Even better, online gambling companies could use the upcoming release of Last Vegas to convince young adults that Las Vegas is, in reality, a phenomenally boring place stuffed to the gills with ‘People of Walmart’ candidates and just about the last place you should visit if you’re looking for anything resembling a good time.