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Popular encrypted messaging startup Telegram has declared its intentions to launch its own blockchain platform and native cryptocurrency. Dubbed ‘Gram’, Telegram’s cryptocurrency will power peer-to-peer payments on its encrypted chat app with the possibility of expansion to other platforms – this and other great ideas will help it to be a force to reckon with in the crypto space that is currently dominated by Ripple, Bitcoin, and Ethereum.
Anticipated to be funded by a huge Initial Coin Offering (ICO) the Telegram Open Network (TON), will be a third-generation blockchain that is designed to make tremendous improvements to the flaws and shortcomings of existing cryptocurrencies. TON is what the funds raised for the startup’s new cryptocurrency venture is being called. It is designed not only to be less power-hungry than its counterparts such as Bitcoin but also much faster than the rest – there are already rumors that one million transactions can be processed every second by the platform thus doing away with the 24-hour waiting period that is experienced by some users when sending Bitcoin at peak times.
While a number of large companies have been busy rolling out and working on their own blockchain-powered products, Telegram’s entry into the space is bound to shake things a bit since it has an upper hand in all this. The company’s instant messaging app boasts of 180 million-plus active users most of whom use the chat platform to stay informed about the frenzied price bumps in lesser-known cryptocurrencies such as NEO.
In its pre-ICO sale, Telegram hopes to raise about $500 million – in this round, the currency will be offloaded to big investors at a significantly reduced rate, at a potential total currency value of between $3 billion and $5 billion.
In the 132-page wallet where the announcement was made, Telegram also mentioned that its wallet could be launched by or in the fourth quarter of 2018 and by the beginning of 2019, the Telegram Open Network will open to its users.
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There is a lot of optimism as far as sports betting is concerned and a number of states are preparing for the landmark ruling that will hopefully repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Kentucky is the eighth state where sports betting could become a reality if PASPA is repealed and bill SB 22 that was submitted on Wednesday by Senator Julian Carroll gains enough political support. The bill seeks to amend a Kentucky statute that exempts some sports from the current sports betting ban in the state. This bill further seeks to award the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission oversight authority to implement new sports betting regulations. It will also channel all tax revenues generated from the activity to the state coffers.
This is Caroll’s second attempt at pushing a bill that will potentially put Kentucky on the map in regards to sports betting. His first attempt was in September last year when he filed bill BR 155 that sought for the conceptualization and implementation of a sensible framework for legalized sports betting at the Kentucky racetracks and the off-track betting facilities. Unfortunately, the bill flopped before the end of 2017 but the senator maintained that sports betting is a viable solution to Kentucky’s budget problem.
“When the (state financial advisors) PFM Group made their recommendations to cut pensions it was my mission to find a new source of revenue for the ailing systems,” Carroll said in an interview with the Legislative Research Commission in September. “The state has a moral and legal obligation to fund state pensions. Reducing the benefits of thousands of hard-working public servants is not an option.”
Caroll has been rather open about his motivation for the legislative push – he has reaffirmed that the tax revenue from sports betting would be used to support pension schemes as well as facilitating the provision of other civil services. Under the new bill’s terms, gaming operators would need to pay an initial licensing fee of $250,000 and an additional 20 percent tax on gross gaming revenues – from all the funds that will be collected in this way, 60 percent will be allocated to the Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems Non-Hazardous and Kentucky Teachers’ retirement funds.
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Metal rock superstar Ozzy Osbourne has signed a new deal with the renowned Metal Casino to be its brand casino – he will also be a part owner of the casino. Metal Casino’s major focus is on metal fans and thus most, if not all, of their offerings give players a harder rush with prizes that will definitely appeal to rock lovers.
Speaking on his new venture into the casino world, Ozzy who is considered the “Godfather of Metal” said, “The guys at Metal Casino told me that their brand was all about being true, relevant and dedicated to the customer and that really resonated with me. To me, that translated as keeping it real, keeping it original, and doing it all for your fans, and that’s all I’ve been trying to do my whole life.”
The crew at Metal Casino are also just as excited about the partnership as Ozzy is especially because it is perhaps the biggest casino sponsorship deal in the world right now. While the casino is already considered to be the world’s biggest, boldest and most hardcore online casino, being backed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will see it soar to even greater heights in the online casino world.
About Metal Casino
Metal Casino was launched in August last year with the mission to be more than just a regular online casino – the founders envisioned it as a platform that would unite the global community of metal lovers and casino enthusiasts. Their partnerships with some of the biggest names in hard rock like Megadeath’s David Ellefson, Guns N Roses’ Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ and Anthrax’s Scott Ian has elevated their status in both metal music and casino circles. The casino kicked off with all the right notes including having a catalog filled with heavy metal themed promotions and games such as Motorhead and Guns N Roses slot games. It further housed a very tempting Merchandise room where players can find concert tickets and other Metal Casino apparel – at the moment there are tickets for Guns N Roses and Iron Maiden.
Among the apparel that fans and players can find on the site’s Merchandise Room is David Ellefson’s signed Jackson bass guitar. While Ozzy Osbourne does not have any official merchandise on the site, there is a likelihood that tickets, as well as signed apparel from his farewell tour, will be added to the Merchandise room soon. Some diehard fans are even speculating the appearance of toy bats signed by Ozzy in the Merchandise room soon. We will just have to wait and see.
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Facebook founder, chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted his annual challenge – this is usually a review of major events of the previous year and an appraisal of what’s to come. This year, Zuckerberg ended the post with something that will be very exciting to members of the cryptocurrency world that also happen to be Facebook users. In 2018, Facebook could be venturing into blockchain in a bid to “take power from centralized systems” by innovatively utilizing the underlying resources that included encryption and cryptocurrency.
In Zuckerberg’s Thursday posting, he reaffirmed the company’s commitment towards correcting persistent problems that have been dogged the popular social network with the most daunting being misinformation, fake news and hate speech.
Could Crypto Solve These Problems?
“There are important counter-trends to this — encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”
Evidently, Zuckerberg’s endeavor seems to point to a debate that has raged on for a while now, that is, centralization versus decentralization. He pointed out that he and most of his tech counterparts got into technology because they believed it would be a decentralizing force which would give the people more power. However, the people themselves have lost faith in tech companies especially because of reports of tech-based companies that are co-conspirators with authorities who gather large amounts of personal information.
The Facebook CEO acknowledged this problem in his post and he believes that encryption and cryptocurrency have the potential to take back power from centralized systems and give it to the people. While it is not clear what exactly Facebook intends to do with the technology, its entry into the crypto world will be very dramatic. Numerous tech gurus have suggested that crypto and blockchain could have a revolutionary impact that will surpass its current utilization in decentralized digital currencies. For instance, it would be very useful as a decentralized data store that will free information from the influence of companies such as Facebook itself.
As far as we can tell, Facebook is very serious about this venture. The company’s vice president of messaging products, David Marcus, also recently joined the Coinbase.Inc. board late last year. The Facebook executive has been a follower of cryptocurrencies since 2012 and he was very impressed by how Coinbase started to democratize access the new asset class. The prospects of what is come are clearly very promising.
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Indiana is set to be among the over dozen other states that have been preparing for significant changes in federal law pertaining to sports betting. At the moment, the United States Supreme Court is weighing arguments on whether or not to abolish 1992’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that will imply nationwide legalization of sports betting. A number of the states that are already preparing for this are quite optimistic that the Supreme Court will make a decision that upholds their wishes before the third quarter of 2018.
Indiana’s entry into the list was marked by a legislation that is going to be filed this session by a Republican lawmaker. This is, however, not Indiana’s first shot at fighting for sports betting – the state’s first attempt in 2015 did not bear any fruit but with New Jersey’s petition for the abolishment of PASPA being picked up by the Supreme Court everything has changed in their favor. Should PASPA be revoked, a number of states will have already legalized sports betting or will be in the process of finalizing the legislation – these include California, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, New York and Michigan.
Congress Might Act on Sports Betting
According to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the US Congress has shown a lot of interest in the topic of sports betting as well as NBA’s demands for a federal framework for it. Three years ago, Silver endorsed the lifting of the ban that imposed certain regulation and technological safeguards. His reasoning was that this would keep bettors from resorting to illicit bookmaking and shady offshore betting sites.
This seems like a longshot since it essentially implies diverting attention to what would represent a large expansion of gaming at the federal level which has not been possible for very many years. Regardless, there have been several efforts made towards it including calls for hearings on an active legislation by Rep. Frank Pallone that seeks to repeal the federal ban and leave sports betting to the states.
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Last month, Shanghai City authorities unveiled plans and measures intended to facilitate and boost the city’s cultural and creative industries – one of the highlights of the announcement was the plan to become the global Esports capital. This goes a long way in validating their commitment to encouraging investments in the construction of Esports stadiums, developing Esports industrial parks, incubating the local Esports outfits and brands as well as hosting more international tournaments.
In 2017, China’s Esports industry went through a dramatic escalation to over $11 billion – the mobile Esports market alone recorded a 104 percent increase in domestic revenue. Already, a number of popular Chinese brands are getting into Esports after the realization that the statistics are proof that it is here to stay. One such brand is Bilibili, a popular video-sharing site which launched an Esports of the same name on December 18th. Bilibili Gaming will compete in the next season of the League of Legends Pro League which was founded in China back in 2013 and has grown to become an integral part of the Chinese Esports culture.
Esports in China dates back to the late 90s when the country hosted the biggest international tournaments such as the World Cyber Games and Electronic Sports World. Despite having faced a number of problems in following years, the early noughties saw Esports grow to greater heights with the influx of investments in form of capital that significantly helped gamers to secure more lucrative contracts and invest in establishing themselves as professionals. Evidently, this has worked out quite well as proven by the thousands of eager fans who grace Esports events such as last month’s League of Legends World Championship that was held in Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing.
Beijing may be a great choice to host Esports tournaments but Shanghai is undoubtedly the home of Chinese Esports. Not only has it hosted a number of tournaments but it also houses the largest number of Esports followers and boasts of a plethora of technological advantages over Beijing. Shanghai’s municipal authorities have not been shy in declaring their support for the gaming culture as well – they have shortened the approval procedures for domestically created games to as little as five days. Furthermore, the municipality is quite welcoming to Esports entrepreneurs from other parts of China while offering local schooling for their children and Shanghainese residency rights as incentives.
As far as technology is concerned, Shanghai has always had an upper hand. The city’s internet speeds, for instance, are the highest in China – even higher than in the capital. This is usually a major consideration for many people especially those who take part in competitive online gaming either as viewers or as players.
Shanghai’s Esports industry indeed has a very bright future but the revolution itself is not without its flaws. A number of issues have been raised regarding the impacts of the industry on the local community. The spoils from the booming Esports business should be plowed back to ensure that quality is guaranteed going forward and that some sort of relevant education is provided as well. Also, just as important is regulation – restrictions need to be made when it comes to the ages of gamers lest the city breeds gaming junkies with little or no education. With the forward-thinking approach of the Shanghainese people and government, Esports education could even be integrated with education to achieve what could possibly be the best result.
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2018 begins on a rather high note with a lot of events and activities taking place – the remaining traces of Donald Trump’s erstwhile casino empire could finally evanesce, the former Revel casino may be finally bought and reopened and sports betting could be legalized nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court thus allowing for radical expansion of the gambling industry. At the same time, as a much-execrated state acquisition of power is expected to come to an end, internet gambling continues to thrive.
Atlantic City, a southern New Jersey city, on the other hand, has a hopeful future in 2018 despite being years overdue for a big win.
“I’m extremely optimistic about Atlantic City and the industry in 2018,” said Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts, which is the first U.S. casino to open outside Nevada and is celebrating its 40th anniversary in May this year. “We’re very excited about the renaissance of Atlantic City; we think it’s for real.”
Perhaps one of the biggest developments in the city will be the summer reopening of the former Trump Taj Mahal as a Hard Rock casino resort. According to Jim Allen, the Hard Rock chairman, the casino resort will be all about music and 24/7 entertainment. To this effect, Hard Rock has even enlisted the services of renowned guitar whiz and ‘Sopranos’ actor Steven Van Zandt. The entertainer will be part of advertising ventures that will include big-name concerts, small indoor performances as well as beach concerts.
Hard Rock acquired the Trump Taj Mahal from billionaire investor Carl Icahn in March 2017 after it had been shut down back in October 2016 because of a strike with Atlantic City’s main casino workers’ union. Icahn also has his sights set on an economic development project that is yet to be named and this will involve the demolition of the former Trump Plaza casino located on the boardwalk below the Atlantic City Expressway.
Also, former Revel casino could also finally be reopened in 2018. Already a group led by Colorado developer Bruce Deifik is seeking to purchase the property for $200 million then reopen it. While the sale seems to be on the verge of being closed, Glenn Straub, Revel’s current owner has denied the existence of any such deal. He insists that he intends to reopen the casino himself after the state appeals courts rules on whether or not he needs a casino license to do so.
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A new year is finally here and looking back at the previous month, there are a lot of announcements that were made then that are going to make a huge impact in the near future. One of the biggest and most exciting developments in the world of poker was the unveiling of PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship which is better known as the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC). Billed as one of the biggest tournaments in the history of poker, the championship is scheduled for January 2019 and will attract a huge number of poker enthusiasts from all parts of the world. There are so many great things to look forward to in regards to the championship with the biggest highlight being the first-place prize which amounts to a whopping $9 million after PokerStars adds in an extra $1 million to it – PokerStars will contribute the remaining $8 million gradually before the end of 2018.
Starting this month (January 2018) and all through the year PokerStars will be giving away over 300 PSPC Platinum Passes each being worth $30,000 and including the $25,000 buy-in, about $2,000 for travel expenses as well as accommodation at the Atlantis Resorts where the championship will be hosted. This month will see 19 Platinum Passes fall into the hands of lucky participants in a range of online and live events that the renowned poker powerhouse will be hosting. What better way to begin a new year than getting to win one of this Platinum Passes which also gives you an assurance of beginning the next year (2019) with a bang. Here is how you can get a hold of these Platinum Passes:
From Online Events
- Winter Series Main Event winners (December 25, 2017 – January 7, 2018) – 4 Platinum Passes.
- Winter Series All-in Shootout winner January 8, 2018 – 1 – Platinum Pass.
- Monthly Sunday Cashers Final winner February 3, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
From Live Tournament
- Italian Poker Open January 3-8, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
- ACOP Platinum Series 20 January 5-14, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
- PCA Bahamas 2018 January 6-14, 2018 – 5 Platinum Passes.
- PokerStars MEGASTACK Ulster January 12 -14, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
- PokerStars Festival London January 22-29, 2018 – 3 Platinum Passes.
- BSOP SAO Paulo January 25 -30, 2018 – 2 Platinum Passes.
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It is now quite clear that competitive gaming is on the verge of blowing up and taking over the mainstream market – with backing from celebrities and mainstream brands it is only a matter of time before it hits big time. The most recent entrants into the eSports industry are superstar singer Jennifer Lopez and Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke both of whom have invested in eSports teams ahead of highly anticipated gaming competitions that will play a huge role in increasing the mainstream appeal of the already booming industry.
Jennifer Lopez bought into a team franchise that will participate in the world-renowned Overwatch League which will draw competing teams from cities like San Francisco, London, and Seoul among others. LA Gladiators, which is run by Kroenke will join in on the action once the global Overwatch League is launched in January 2018.
Kroenke and J-Lo join a host of stars who have seen the potential in eSports – they include Formula One driver Fernando Alonso as well as former basketball pro, Magic Johnson. According to Newzoo, a firm that offers market intelligence for eSports, the global eSports economy grew 34 percent year-on-year to about $660 million and is expected to hit a whopping $1.5 billion by 2020. Further estimates reveal that the current eSports audience count stands at about 385 million with a majority relying on streaming services like Twitch to watch the eSports broadcasts – Twitch currently boasts of over 400 million monthly views.
Gillette is one of the mainstream brands that have actively endorsed eSports – the company has shown deep interest in participating and integrating their brand with eSports brands. Aside from just investing in League of Legends, Gillette has gone further to add one of the game’s top players, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeno Martinez to its directory of sports stars which also happens to include Brazilian soccer star Neymar.
“If you look at the growth trajectory, the revenue, the viewing numbers, everything is going north,” says Gillette marketing executive, Adam Paris. “eSports is growing at a very rapid rate. Yes, it’s finding its feet, but it feels to me that we as an industry have been talking about investing in it for two to three years at trade show panel events, but I feel it’s time to move on from talking about it and make the jump.”
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Very many online casinos have warmed up to the idea of integrating cryptocurrencies to their payment systems with nearly all of them investing millions in the rapidly developing crypto market. While the fact that casinos are embracing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should come as no surprise, the rate of its growth has been somewhat overwhelmingly good. TheBitcoinStrip, an international analytic resource, estimates that currently about 60% of transactions in the Bitcoin network can be attributed to bets. It also estimates that the number of transactions made by gamblers every second is now well over the 337 mark. The escalation in the popularity of cryptocurrency in the gambling world is inevitable since gamblers will certainly prefer the security, absence of additional commissions and the unlimited withdrawals that bitcoin offers.
According to SmartPlay.tech the appearance of bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies, is enough to completely revolutionize the casino industry both in the online space and in brick-and-mortar casinos;
“In order to completely revolutionize the gambling industry, it is necessary to integrate new generation technologies such as Blockchain and Lightning Network, which will make casino activities more profitable for the operator and attractive to the player. We have a technical solution based on the ready-made software, which we can offer to big players in the offline market in the form of full-fledged equipment.”
SmartPlay.tech recently announced its intention to unveil to land-based casinos a full line of new SmartBox machines that will connect a variety of games such as bingo, online slots, poker, and blackjack.
Basically, a SmartBox configuration will consist of a touch screen gaming table, a QR scanner for connecting crypto wallets and a terminal that will allow users to deposit fiat money. The most significant highlight of the boxes is the gambling software that they use – it is based on the principles of blockchain technology and has been successfully tested on a wide range of SmartPlay.tech products. Casino operators are particularly very impressed with the model of operational efficiency that the SmartBox machines present, that is, it ensures that profits are always higher than the costs incurred by the casino by optimizing transaction commissions to minimum market prices of a few cents.
The first batch of test machines has already been deployed for closed testing in a land-based casino where the performance indicators of blockchain technology in a real-world gambling environment will be measured. The tests’ deliverables include actual data that will include average spending, game time, turnover, number of players as well as the conceptual portrait of the target customer. If the results are as promising as they seem to be, then full-fledged production of SmartBox machines will commence.