NY Legislative Session Ends with Online Poker Still in Limbo

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The state and future of online poker in New York was subject to a whole lot of speculation even though 2018 seemed like the best bet for the activity after two years of cautious optimism. However, it turns out that this year was not the safe bet that New Yorkers were hoping for after all.

The New York Assembly ended the legislative session on Wednesday at 11 p.m. thus pulling the plug on the possibility of any online poker or sports betting legislation getting passed this year. This is starting to become a norm and, therefore, in retrospective, this outcome is more of a variation of the same story that the Assembly tells every year – regardless of the fact that a number of changes have been introduced to the process, the end result is always the same.

Was 2018 All About Sports Betting?

Naturally, following the US Supreme Court ruling that repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), there was a lot of buzz and hype around the sports betting. As a result, online poker was once again relegated to the sidelines just like it was in 2016 when it was daily fantasy sports that were a big deal – it still is.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the sports betting proposals stole the show at the state legislature and seemed to have support from both sides, unlike daily fantasy sports lawmakers were not able to reach an eleventh-hour consensus when it came to online poker. Sports betting joins a pile of other unfinished business – including online poker – which will hopefully be finished during the 2019 legislative session.

Still, there is no absolute certainty that the legislation will go as expected in 2019. This year, it was quite evident that the chaos in the legislature, especially the Senate, was starting to get out of hand – it was even worse as the session neared its end. This is probably one of the reasons why the online poker and sports betting bills were not passed even though New York was a favorite to pass at least one of these legislations this year.

What Now?

There is almost absolute certainty that the New York legislature will revisit the sports betting bill come next year. This is mainly because passing on sports betting will undoubtedly put the state at a competitive disadvantage to other states such as Delaware and New Jersey who have already legalized sports betting. Reportedly, the Assembly was just a little less than ten votes shy of a majority and the idea of adding online poker into the mix had been floated around earlier this year.

For the most part, until the 2019 legislative session begins, the leaders have plenty of time to carefully craft legislation that majority of the lawmakers can agree on. For now, we will just have to wait and see the developments that await.

 

Akon Launches Cryptocurrency to Power Youth Entrepreneurship

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Senegal-born platinum-selling singer and philanthropist Akon has recently announced plans to build his own city in Senegal with his recently launched digital currency, Akoin, being the main form of exchange. Cryptocurrencies have had their fair share of celebrity backers but most of the support has been at face value, that is, most of them are just ambassadors for digital currency outfits. As such, the move by Akon to venture into the crypto space is not only bold but also game-changing.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 18 on a panel titled “Branding Africa: Blockchain, Entrepreneurship and Empowering the Future,” the Grammy-nominated performer said blockchain technology and cryptocurrency could be “the savior for Africa in many ways” especially because of its high-security factor.

“I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system and also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down,” Akon said during the panel event, according to Page Six.

A Crypto City?

According to an initial blurb posted by ICO Impact Group, Akon and his team have a more ambitious plan in the works and it involves a 100 percent crypto-based city. As mentioned earlier at the beginning of this post, Akoin will be the center of the transactional life of the city that has been dubbed “Akon Crypto City.”

As it turns out, the development of the Akon Crypto City is already underway and it began with the 2,000 acres of land that the singer was gifted by the President of Senegal. The city is located within 5 minutes on Senegal’s new international airport, and a short drive from Dakar, Senegal’s capital city. It is also close to the coast, which in addition to all the factors make it a strategic location for such a venture.

At the moment, there are so many reasons to be skeptical about the plan especially because of the blithe overuse of “blockchain” as a buzzword and panacea to existing financial problems. To make it worse, Akon’s responses to the technical questions during the panel were not exactly heartening either – PageSix reports him saying, “I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.” This is not exactly reassuring especially considering how shaky the crypto space is.

However, if we consider Akon’s Akon Lighting Africa charity project and how it effectively helped 17 countries in Africa to arrange for financing for solar panels and small-scale lighting projects, then this ambitious endeavor might just pay off, eventually.

BlitzPredict Debuts App to Predict World Cup Match Results

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BlitzPredict, a blockchain-based application that aims to help sports betting fans receive “reliable and transparent” betting advice has recently launched its main platform just a few days after the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Russia. The platform aims to provide these revolutionary solutions to some of the most daunting issues that have plagued the sports betting industry by recording predictions on the outcome of sporting events on an immutable blockchain.

The Las Vegas-based company will be responsible for time-stamping against true market odds in order to create what the BlitzPredict team refers to as a “verifiable, public record of everyone’s predictions.” Hopefully, the technology will make it harder for experts to hide their record, lie about the prices they receive and delete their losses altogether thus giving the users the opportunity to make informed decisions on the betting strategies they choose to back.

The blockchain would, in essence, provide the public with the transparent figures of any expert’s return on investment which is a great indicator of the expert’s past performance. Usually, due to the lack of such insight, the bettors usually end up risking their money by following bad advice from “experts” whose prediction histories and return on investment are not verifiable.

BlitzPredict will also allow users to purchase World Cup betting advice using its XBP bitcoin which is built on the Ethereum network and is ERC-20 compliant. In addition to this, the platform will be offering blogging functionality and a Major League Baseball (MLB) model to complement its current offer, that is, soccer. The company believes that the MLB model has had a 25-8 start which has, in turn, resulted in a 76 percent win percentage – in fact, the BlitzPredict has confirmed that it has already “recommended plenty of underdogs that have come through.”

BlitzPredict’s XBP token is also doing quite well as it is already being listed on a number of exchanges that include Bancor, HitBTC, Idex, and Bankor. This means that for users of the platform it will be very easy to make deposits, trades, and withdrawals.

Taking Advantage of the Changing US Market

Since the United States Supreme Court ruled to allow the states to decide on whether or not to legalize sports betting, there has been a lot of buzz with many companies moving to take advantage of the new opportunity and the emerging market that comes with it. BlitzPredict has not been left behind and they even go further ahead to admit that they had been eagerly waiting for the judgment.

BlitzPredict says that the rejuvenated demand for legal sports betting offerings will be accompanied by an aggressive appetite for high-quality content as well as tools that can help enhance the bettor’s chances of winning the bets they place. As far as the company is concerned, blockchain-driven tools are the way to go.

Disney and Nintendo Partner for Esports Competition

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In the wake of the rapid growth and immense popularity of Esports, otherwise known as competitive video gaming, the House of Mouse has launched the Nintendo Family Showdown, a new US competitive gaming contest where select families will go against each other in head to head battles in a series of Nintendo game challenges that will be broadcast across Disney’s linear and digital platforms.

To apply for the exciting new gaming event, the parents and legal caretakers of eligible kids aged between six and 18 can submit one-minute (or less) video explaining why they are the biggest fans of Nintendo. This application period began on June 18 and when it finally comes to an end, four families will ultimately be selected to compete in the Nintendo Switch Family Showdown that will be aired on Disney XD and the Disney Channel – the competition will also be streamed on the DisneyNow app later this summer.

Some of the challenges that will be featured in the competition will include searching for collectibles in the popular Super Mario Odyssey game, dance battles in Just Dance 2018, as well as head to head matchups in Mario Tennis Aces. The four lucky families that will be selected will on August 3 head to Los Angeles to meet some of the Disney Channel stars and compete in the showdown for a shot at winning the prizes that will be on offer.

Betting on Esports

This particular contest will serve as a sort of propellant of Disney’s gradual but nicely executed venture into the Esports space – it comes right in the heels of the launch of D|XP, Disney XD’s new gaming-themed programming block last summer (June 17, 2017).

The Nintendo Switch Family Showdown aside, Disney XD had already been airing original Esports content provided by Electronic Sports League (ESL). D|XP airs a number of ESL’s shows including the ESL Brawlers and ESL Speedrunners as well as a number of series produced by VICE’s Waypoint, ESPN, Disney Digital Network, Warner Bros. Television, IGN, Attack Media, Group’s Blue Ribbon Content, Banger Films and Disney Digital Network.

Nickelodeon Not Far Behind

Nickelodeon, which is considered to be Disney’s most formidable rival, has also been busy ratcheting up its growing Esports programming lineup. The most recent for the company has been its participation in the $15 million seed round of the Minecraft-centered Super Gaming League – the company added the Super League Gaming Minecraft City Champs, an Esports series that features Minecraft teams in a multi-week national tournament.

 “Nickelodeon is interested in Esports because gaming is an important passion point for kids today, and forging this partnership with Super League puts us at the forefront of where kids will be playing next,” Nickelodeon’s executive vice president Matthew Evans said in an interview with Variety last year.

Betting on the FIFA World Cup 2018 with EtherWorldCUp

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup is indeed one of the biggest sports events in the world, and we do not intend to get left out of all the action and enticing activities that will be going on as a result. Even though the United States did not qualify, there is still plenty of side action for soccer enthusiasts in the United States especially those who love to bet on their favorite teams. This particular article further addresses the needs of a much larger demographic thanks to the three different aspects that it involves – that is, crypto, sports betting and the World Cup. How amazing is that?

What I am referring to is the EtherWorldCup which is a new Ethereum-based betting platform that was created with nothing but the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup in mind. Other than just helping people to invest using Ether, the platform is designed to combat some of the problems that many sports bettors face today – these include lack of transparency, high betting fees, bureaucracy as well as a ton of trust issues that stem from the fact that the bettor have to reveal lots of sensitive information and then entrust the operators with that information and their money.

How It Works

Using Ethereums’s blockchain technology and smart contracts, EtherWorld Cup will be providing solutions that will make the sports betting ecosystem more transparent and discrete while at the same time dispelling the need for trust. The smart contracts are the main highlight when it comes to the issue of trust as they can be used as trustless tools that will automatically deliver your funds whenever you win a bet.

To participate, all a customer needs to do is to install Metamask on their computers and have some ETH to bet on their favorite team at the World Cup. As mentioned earlier, all the trading will be carried out through smart contracts and therefore players will not need to worry about dispensing any personal information.

EtherWorldCUp bets are not audited since the team behind the platform believes that auditors have high fees that would result in higher costs of investment for their customers. This does not, however, mean that your money is any less safe as the company explicitly outlines that it has taken all the necessary steps to ensure that customer funds are safe and secure.

These smart contracts further help to keep the fees lowed that 7 percent and users are only charged when they decide to give up on a bet or when they withdraw their funds. The platform also uses two of the best live score APIs to determine the winners – Sportmonks and footballdata.org.

So, while there are certainly a number of sports betting sites based on the Ethereum blockchain, if you are a World Cup fan then look no further than EtherWorldCup simply because it was created specifically for that event and therefore does a great job at optimizing service delivery in that regard.

 

2018 FIFA World Cup Betting Guide

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In the United States, Las Vegas is and will probably always be the Mecca of sports betting. However, in the wake of the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for nationwide sports betting, many more states will be giving Nevada a run for its money. As it stands, Delaware was the first state – after Nevada where some forms of sports betting have been legal for years – to legalize sports betting. This move has since been followed by New Jersey and many more including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Mississippi are expected to do the same very soon.

As you might have already guessed, this is perfect timing since the World Cup just kicked off recently (last Thursday) and this presents a huge opportunity for some side action. If you are only finding out this now then you are a little late to the party. You will be forgiven for not knowing though – it is growing more understandably clear the FIFA World Cup can either bring out either absolute indifference or rabid interest when it comes to the United States.

This year will probably lean more towards the side of absolute indifference especially because, for the first time since 1986, the United States failed to make the World Cup. Ouch!

“Las Vegas is such an international city and the World Cup is such an international event that people are still going to be around to bet on it,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito commented. “It’s going to be a tremendous event for our sports books, but the U.S. not being there is definitely going to have some effect.”

However, the country remains to be the third most populated country in the world, which means that even a tad bit of interests represents a considerably large number of people. With legalized sports betting now a reality, there is still a lot that Americans can play for. Patriotism aside, it is time to make some cash. If betting is not for you, then too bad. I am sure there are a couple of other things that you can do; the opportunities are endless.

Odds to Win

Country               Odds       % chance to win

Brazil                     18-5           22%

Argentina             19-5           21%

Germany               9-2             18%

Spain                     5-1             16%

France                   11-2           15%

These top five choices represent 92 percent of the win equivalent even before you consider other contenders that include formidable teams like Belgium and Portugal as well as several other spoilers in the 32-team midfield. It would probably be smarter to wait for the knockout round before you jump in with these teams especially if you want to get a little more insight into what you are getting into. Still, the futures prices will not have changed much since the assumptions to qualify are already baked into the numbers.

Alternatively, as the knockouts begin you could bet on your preferred team to advance on game-by-game lines – this will roll out your investment at every round and is likely to yield a better return than betting futures prices.

New Bill Could Finally Bring Online Gambling to Michigan

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On Tuesday night Michigan lawmakers voted 68-40 for two main bills that are intended to create a Lawful Internet Gaming Act that would responsible for regulating online renditions of the state’s licensed brick-and-mortar casino games. Introduced last year by Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Portage, the legislation, if passed, will see to the establishment of a Division of Internet Gaming within the existing Michigan Gaming Control Board.

This new division will be tasked with issuing internet gaming licenses thus allowing the state’s operational casinos to accept online bets – it will also include sports betting supposing the board decides to legalize statewide sports betting following the recent Supreme Court ruling that paved way for the activity.

All online gambling will be made through the existing land-based casinos that will receive the licenses from the new division, which implies some partnerships are bound to surface as a result. The same will go for the existing tribal casinos that will be working with the state to achieve the new technology.

“People in Michigan are already gambling over the internet, but they are doing so at risky and illegal websites,” Rep. Iden pointed out. “The Michigan websites will have strict state oversight, unlike the illegal and unregulated sites our resident use now, at great risk to their finances and personal information.”

Michigan plans to impose an 8 percent tax rate on online gambling revenue – 35 percent of this tax revenue will go to the Internet Gaming Fund that will be tasked with enforcing the online gambling regulations. The lion’s share of the revenue (55 percent) will go to the city of Detroit which hosts all three of Michigan’s commercial casinos while the remaining 10 percent would be shared equally between the school state aid fund and the Michigan transportation fund.

Tribal Casinos Not Left Out

On condition that their compacts are either recreated or amended, the bill will also allow Michigan’s 23 tribal casinos to offer online gambling. The tribe’s quest for inclusion was among the most pressing concerns and impediments to the bill during the initial stages of its launch. Fortunately, they did get what they wanted thanks to a “poison bill” that would effectively rescind online gambling and sports betting in the state in case the federal government decided to bar the tribal casinos from participating in the new online venture.

The bill still has a long to go though. Michigan residents will have to wait until the Senate session resumes this fall that is the next step towards legal and regulated online gambling in the state.

“When we come back in the fall,” said Iden. “This is going to be at the top of the agenda. Michigan should be at the forefront of that.”

Ocean Resort Gets License Hearing Ahead of Grand Opening

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Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino is set to have its gaming license hearing on June 20, just eight days before its grand opening ceremony. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission which made the announcement requires the new owners of the former Revel Casino to obtain a casino license in order to offer gambling services at the renovated property.

Also set to open its doors on June 28 is Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City that was formerly known as the Trump Taj Mahal and just sits just a few paces away from Ocean Resort. Unlike Hard Rock which managed to acquire the gaming license in May, Ocean Resorts is yet to be heard. During the June 20 hearing, the state regulators will meet with Ocean’s management to make sure that they are aware of the burden of operating a gambling establishment.

The hearing will begin at 1 pm local time with the gambling regulator adding that in case some issues remain unhandled by the end of the session then one more hearing will be held the following morning. On the other hand, if everything goes well Ocean Resorts will be granted the gambling license. This will be followed by a building inspection and operations tests, both of which have to be completed before the June 28 official launch date.

What’s In Store?

The Ocean Resort management team welcomed media representatives earlier this week to give the public a sneak peek of the renovated property. The casino will be operating a 138,000-square-foot casino with 2,000 slot machines and a decent number of table games, a spa, nightclubs, six pools and some other family-friendly entertainment facilities. Also on the menu will be over 20 dining facilities, 16 of which will begin operating as soon as the casino launched on June 28.

The gaming floor will further include a sportsbook that will be operating in conjunction with William Hill, a British bookmaker. This comes just in time after the United States Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for sports betting.

“This is the heart of our casino. This will create amazing energy. There’s nothing better than seeing a lively group cheering on their favorite team. The casino is supposed to be a fun, vibrant, exciting environment and often times the sportsbook is the heart of that excitement. I think that Atlantic City will benefit greatly from having that added experience to all of its casino resorts,” Ocean Resort advisor Seth Schorr commented on the casino’s sports betting offering.

As part of the grand opening, the casino will be throwing a huge celebration on the opening weekend. This will feature performances from Jermaine Dupri, Diplo, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Kaskade and many other high profile artists. With Hard Rock’s opening weekend scheduled for the same time, Atlantic City is bound to light up with festivities that you cannot afford to miss.

Reserve Bank of India Reveals Its Crypto-Ban Was Uninformed

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The Reserve Banks of India (RBI), India’s central bank, has been warning the citizens of India against the dangers of investing in crypto since 2013. The central bank followed through with two more major warnings in 2017 before it finally came down hard on the cryptocurrency industry earlier this year.

An April 5 this year, the RBI issued a somewhat controversial decree that required all regulated financial institutions to quit providing services to business dealing in cryptocurrencies – this was accompanied by a three-month compliance deadline. According to the bank, the move was primarily motivated by the need to protect consumers and prevent money laundering. At the same time, the RBI also announced that it would be forming a workgroup that would be tasked with the study of the feasibility of issuing a state-backed cryptocurrency.

As expected, not everyone agreed with the RBI and its decision especially because of the concern that the bank did not conduct proper research prior to issuing the decree. This concern was confirmed this week when the RBI revealed that had made no serious efforts to effectively and explicitly study and understand various aspects of cryptocurrencies before issuing the ban. Furthermore, the bank did not form an internal committee to investigate the purported risks that it associated with cryptocurrencies.

“The RBI specifically mentions that it conducted no research or consultation before the implementation of restriction in April. The RBI also responded that no committee was ever formed for analyzing the concept of blockchain before the decision,” said Sethi, a lawyer and founder of blockchainlawyer.in.

The most affected parties, in this case, were the Indian cryptocurrency exchanges and individual traders, most of whom believe that even though they are opposed to it, they actually did expect something like that to come up. It is becoming more common for governments to make spontaneous decisions on crypto without studying it first. For instance, Japan and Russia have tried to ban crypto but have been forced to soften their stances on the issue owing to the backlash, and India is certainly headed in the same direction.

What Next?

Multiple lawsuits were filed against the RBI and some of them are already taking root into how the future of crypto in the country will play out.

“This RBI response has cemented our case ahead of the hearing in SC. The grounds on which our writ petition has been filed is that the RBI has not done enough research to ban a business completely,” Rashmi Deshpande, one of the lawyers fighting out the case in India’s Supreme Court told local news outlet.

According to June 13 report by the Economic Times, the RBI has already softened its position and therefore going to lift sanctions and the ban on crypto thus allowing trading once again. Some other reports have conflicting information but one thing that is clear is that there is a lot of effort being made toward making sure the decision is reversed.

“The foremost reason we are fighting is because we know that banning is next to impossible and it will make things worse for everyone – for the Reserve Bank, for the government, for the tax department, and for the user. In addition, it will push India back in reference to blockchain adoption across the world. We always have an option to relocate to other countries to carry our business, but that’s not the solution. If we cannot convince our own government, we cannot expect other governments to support us,” says Kunal Barchha, one of the founders of Coinrecoil.

Esports Shine at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)

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The Esports craze has been quite a big deal in the past couple of years and if anything is to go by, this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is proof that the rapidly growing and evolving activity is here to stay. Launched in 1995, E3 is known for being a great generator of media impressions something that is currently at the center of Esports’ development hence the Esports companies are naturally drawn to the event. Besides, E3 is all about video gaming, and so is Esports which makes them, essentially, separate parts of a single but humongous entity.

In 2017, a record 68,000 people attended E3 – this included a 15,000 video game fans who took advantage of the opportunity that came with the debut of a more open system that allowed consumers to buy tickets to the sprawling industry-only trade show. This year saw even more consumer attendance and in an effort to connect with and cater to all the different facets of the audience, E3 partnered with Big Block Capital Group as well as other big brands like Volkswagen Jetta to launch Subnation.

According to Owner Big Block, one of the mentioned E3 partners, Subnation is part of a substantive push by Big Block and E3 to connect brands directly to the consumer fan base that built the gamer/Esports worlds.

“Subnation is an omnichannel media platform bringing together gaming and esports with lifestyle brands,” Big Block Capital chief executive officer, Seven Volpone said in an interview with tvrev.com. “Subnation’s mission is to elevate this global trend, celebrating the creators, innovators, and consumers who are defining today’s gaming culture while providing brands a new forum to connect with these important and influential audiences.”

Subnation will offer a series of brand experiences, live performances as well as immersive entertainment celebrating gaming and the thriving Esports culture during the expo. There will also be a nearby after party that has been dubbed Subnation Live and it will feature a performance DeadMau5.

Volpone went further to clarify that the idea behind Subantion is to better engage and connect different brands with the expressions of culture and lifestyle that are now characteristic of both the video gaming and Esports sectors. Capitalizing on this particular areas is a vital move that will eventually bring them in on the big bucks – according to PwC, these particular sectors generated a whopping £23.4 billion in the United States in 2017.

“Esports is a really exciting avenue for Big Block. We’ve been actively involved in eSports for more than 15 years. We tend not to get involved in things just because they are the trend. We really are out there mining for the best things, before they become the best thing,” Volpone added.