A Life Changing Game
With a talent for fund raising Laura Bancroft (Delta Burke - Bridal Fever) is asked to be in charge of the fund raising team at the Juvenile Chronic Illness Foundation. Whilst out on a date with partner, Jim Bancroft (Gerald McRaney - Heart of the Country), they end up heading in to a Reno casino, something she had never done before but soon finds herself enjoying success on a poker slot machine. But that first visit leads to them returning and before she knows it Laura finds herself gambling more and more even on fruit machines in a grocery store. But as the excitement of winning turns to the desperation of losing Laura finds herself unable to walk away and not only clears out her own bank account by gambling but embezzles money from the foundation to try and gamble her way out of the mess that her life has become.
"Going for Broke" is another one of those made for TV movies which tries to lift the lid on gambling addiction and how it can destroy you by taking control of your life. And I have to say that having watched a couple of other movies about gambling addiction this one does a nice job of showing how it gets grip of you, changing your priorities, dominating your life and causing you to make some bad decisions out of desperation. That comes from "Going for Broke" focusing on just a regular mother who finds herself unwittingly becoming addicted to playing the slot machines after one innocent visit to a casino and that is all it takes.
As such there is a familiar side to "Going for Broke" as we watch Laura enjoying the excitement of winning but also the desperation of losing which in turn leads to bad decisions, anxiety and stealing not only to try and win back the money she lost but to pay for the thrill of gambling. But that isn't where the movie is at its strongest, that comes from seeing how Laura changes. We see how she finds herself spending time gambling instead of working and also letting her children down as she forgets to pick them up or keeps them up all hours of the night. We also see how after ending up in debt she becomes stressed, starts smoking again, lying to others and most significantly becoming angry when ever someone even dares to mention that she might have a gambling problem. And there is a lot of truth to everything which is shown in the movie especially when it comes to how it changes you.
The thing about "Going for Broke", and most of these movies which attempt to show us the dangers of gambling, I wonder if they work in the way intended. I say that because as someone who once had a gambling problem I don't think watching this movie would have stopped me from gambling. Instead watching "Going for Broke" gave me some cold sweats as it made me realise just how out of control my life was. But then maybe this movie might help others to see the signs in loved ones who have gambling issues whilst also keeping those who have beaten a gambling addiction from going back to those dark times.
What this all boils down to is that "Going for Broke" certainly does a very good job of showing how gambling can take control of a life, destroy it and also effect those close to the gambler.