Microsoft Store Teams Up with ESL to Open Esports Academy

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Microsoft has hopped on the Esports bandwagon by teaming up with Electronic Sports League (ESL) to launch a sports academy at one of Microsoft’s stores in Sydney, Australia. This initiative gives Sydney based Esports enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about the industry by signing up for the Esports Academy that will run from Monday, April 16 to Sunday, April 22.

The Esports Academy will help students who wish pursue careers in Esports to realize this dream by imparting them knowledge about actual Esports gaming as well as the nitty-gritty details of the business element of Esports. There will be appearances from a number of Esports players from Australia’s thriving Esports scene – they will teach the academy’s students all that they need to know about the Esports ecosystem.

“We see a lot of excitement and engagement around video games at the Microsoft Store, from casual gamers to some of the players that attend our regular tournaments and competitions,” said the Microsoft Store’s Gaming Community Manager, Max Ferfoglia. “This event is all about bringing the gaming community at Microsoft Store together with some of the top talent in Australia so people can learn more about Esports, how to improve their game and also hear about the pathways that exist to get into the industry.”

“We wanted to give the gamers the kind of opportunities we never had when we were trying to go pro.”

Even though it will only run for a week, the Esports Academy will give the participants the required knowledge which is much more important in the competitive electronic gaming scene. The three-hour sessions will include lessons on understanding networking, the various roles available in Esports as well as an open pitching session and a Q&A session. At the end of the session, the attendees will be required to plan a hypothetical tournament to any scale they wish.

This program is, of course, not even close to formalized education but it will go a long way in imparting valuable networking opportunities for the students. Hopefully, since it is a pilot project, it will be successful enough to spawn more similar initiatives in Sydney and many other parts of the globe. Meanwhile, interested Esports lovers in Sydney can sign up here.

Copycat Lawsuits Piling Up Against Social Casino Operators

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A slew of lawsuits have begun piling up against Washington State social gambling operators in the wake of a federal court ruling which found that Big Fish Casino which was previously owned by Churchill Downs violated Washington State gaming laws. All these copycat lawsuits hope to capitalize on the recent court ruling and state laws that govern and regulate online gambling.

As of Monday, Geekwire reports that four lawsuits had already been filed against four other social gaming operators namely High 5 Games, Playtika, DoubleDown Interactive and Huuge Games. Each of these operators offers a series of casino games like blackjack, slots, and roulette that use virtual chips. These chips have no monetary value but players must have them in order to play. Therefore, when players run out of the chips, they can either opt to wait until the game offers more free chips or buy a huge number of chips with real money and get back to playing.

All four suits further user similar language and arguments in their filings which also happen to be centre around the same arguments of the Big Fish Casino case. This takes advantage of a vague clause in Washington state law that backed the idea that the chips represent “something of value” even though they are not worth any money on their own.

“Double Down Casino games are illegal gambling games because they are online games at which players wager things of value (the chips) and by an element of chance (e.g., by spinning an online slot machine) are able to obtain additional entertainment and extend gameplay (by winning additional chips),” states one of the suits.

All these cases including the Big Fish casino case that preceded them are very likely to have major implications for the casual casino games market as a number of social casino gaming providers today depend on in-app purchases as revenue sources. The lawsuits represent an emerging backlash against this model. Already, online gambling lawsuits are becoming fairly common but the tide turned in favour of the petitioners and this opened the door for similar occurrences in the near future.

Playing It Safe

Again, following the Big Fish Casino ruling, PokerStars became one of the first social gambling operators to stop offering free play games in an effort adhere to the terms outlined by the March 28 Court of Appeals decision. According to the Washington State Gambling Commission press release, PokerStars opted out of the state’s online gambling industry. The gambling commission however assured the public that it had nothing to with this move by the online gaming operator:

“We are not a party to the civil court case, we did not testify in the case, and we did not order these sites to discontinue free online play for Washington residents. Customers with concerns should contact these websites directly,” reads the April 4 press release.

PokerStars’ parent company, The Stars Group, released a statement shortly after saying that the company was “reviewing the rulings and ensuring that our activities are in line with state regulations.” The company also said that it would reinstate players to their status before the free game offerings were altered once the law is clarified.

Intel, Shaquille O’Neal Enter Esports with NBA 2K League

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Yesterday, Intel announced its multi-year agreement with NBA 2K to become the Esports league’s official technology partner. The league which is a product of the partnership of NBA and Take-Two Interactive is set to debut in May and it will feature 17 NBA teams fielding their own Esports lineups to compete in the electronic basketball games.

Intel’s announcement further included information on the league’s technology, which will be provided by Intel – the NBA 2K games will be played on the Intel Core I7-8700K-powered Alienware PCs instead of PlayStation or Xbox. In addition to this, Intel will also be providing the tech infrastructure for tournaments, playoffs as well as regular season games.

“Intel plans to provide the best gaming experience for competitors and fans through its cloud to client solutions,” said John Bonini, vice president and general manager of the VR, Gaming and Esports Group at Intel Corporation. “Intel has been a leader in the growth of the Esports industry and community for more than 15 years, and the NBA 2K League’s fresh format will be a great showcase for Esports. With more than 15 years in the industry, Intel is committed to advancing Esports through new and innovative partnerships so it was a natural fit for us to work with the NBA 2K League to deliver our cloud to client solutions and showcase that the best experience for fans and players is on a PC with Intel Core i7 processors.”

Shaq’s Second Gaming Venture

Basketball legend Shaquille ‘Shaq’ O’Neal also recently revealed that he would be entering into the Esports arena with NBA 2K. This is the second competitive video gaming venture that Shaq will be pursuing – his beat’-em-up reboot of Shaq-Fu has proven to be quite successful.

Shaq made the announcement via his Twitter account where he also revealed that he is now the general manager of Kings Guard, an NBA 2K team. While he did not give any precise details on what the position entails, Shaq’s involvement goes in line with the NBA’s vision of the Esports league – the Esports teams are matched with actual NBA players to oversee their direction. The Sacramento Kings Guard is one of the 17 NBA-owned Esports teams that will be participating in the inaugural NBA 2K League draft that begun filling up player rosters on April 4.

Atlantic City Casino Job Fair for Veterans Set for April 19

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According to reports by local media, a casino job fair for veterans is scheduled for April 19 in Atlantic City. This follows the entry of two more casinos into the Atlantic City casino market – the two will begin operating later this year and they are hoping to staff up before their official launch dates.

The April 19 casino job fair will be held from 9 am to 3p at the offices of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission that is located at the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Veterans who are looking for new job opportunities have been advised to get ready for the event especially because it is tailored specifically for them. These veterans have been invited to pre-register and attend the job fair where there will be a number of casino job opportunities made available for them.

Some of these available job opportunities will require the approved applicant to obtain licenses from regulators but, according to Jim Plousis, the head of the New Jersey Control Commission, the process should not take that long. The approved applicants will be able to begin working within as little as a couple of weeks.

“It’s called ‘Bet On A Vet’ and the 8 casinos down here and the two that are looking to open up soon will be here and hiring veterans,” Chairman Jim Plousis said in an interview with KYW Newsradio. “Registrations don’t take that long. We can have them done in a couple weeks and then people would be able to work.”

Veterans are further encouraged to bring their resumes and be dressed appropriately for spot interviews. In addition to this, veterans’ services will be provided to people who might need them.

The new casino operations that will launch in a few months on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk will create as many as seven thousand new job opportunities in the city. Still, all the seven operational casinos in Atlantic City will participate alongside the yet to be launched casinos at the job fair.

Think this is the right opportunity for you? Check out the applications here.

More Traditional Sports Practitioners Set Eyes on Esports

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The Esports revolution already took off and it seems to be waiting for no one. A number of tradition sports leagues are beginning to catch on to this fact. As it stands, the NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB and NASCAR are venturing into the Esports space in a bid to appeal to younger audiences. It is no longer surprising to hear of traditional sports ventures into Esports but we are definitely excited about seeing how they will implement it.

Many of these leagues and collegiate programs have opted to integrate Esports into their business models. These integration efforts range from interactive contests to fan experiences or ticket sales for events that are designed to bring younger audiences closer to traditional sports. However, while this has paid off for some hopeful Esports investors, all of them do not share the same level of success.

NBA’s approach is by far one of the most followed in Esports. The league chose to partner with NBA 2K and thus there have been very clear tie-ins between the two – the NBA teams provide the infrastructure for their Esports counterparts. The NBA has taken a less regional approach in promoting its Esports league and this is definitely going to create a very interesting dynamic as the league grows. How the NBA 2K League plays out once it kicks off will determine the establishment of future leagues for other gaming titles such as FIFA and Madden.

But what have the others done?


During the Dayton 500 race weekend, NASCAR got to partner with 704Games and Esports Arena Drive in order to bring NASCAR Heat Champions to Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR’s interest in Esports is almost natural owing to the fact that it has an older and a wide fan base of about 58 years for television viewers.

During the Dayton 500 race weekend, the NASCAR fans who attended got a chance to win prizes while playing NASCAR Heat 2. This mostly oozed of an independent activation feel and seemed to be more of a showcase for new mobile arena instead of a NASCAR-run. Regardless, the activation is off to a great start and if everything goes well it will grace NASCAR with more ticket sales on non-race days while at the same time giving them a piece of the younger audience that everyone is desperately trying to get a hold of.


One of the most recent developments in college basketball as far as Esports is concerned is the move by two different NCAA basketball conferences to jump into the Esports add-on world. Mountain West Conference and Horizon League, the two conferences, therefore effectively tied their championships to events.

According to Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, “Globally, Esports is enjoying a boom in popularity – particularly among young people who are in the same age bracket as the students on our campuses. We are also seeing universities add Esports programming, technology and business to their curriculum offerings.”

Both conferences have organized tournaments that are considered to be extensively valid moves towards making college programs formed at universities more acceptable. Most of them are still run by students making such support vital to their survival and prosperity.

PokerStars NJSCOOP Makes a Come Back with 80 Tournaments

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Touted as New Jersey’s richest tournament series ever, the PokerStars New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP) is returning and this time players can look forward to guarantees of over $1.3 million. The series is scheduled to run from April 14 through to April 30 and will feature a whopping 40 events – each of the events will be split into a high and low buy-in for which will sum up to 80 tournaments spread out across the 17-day schedule.

The most anticipated events of the series are set for Sunday, April 29. These are: the $200,000 guarantee $500 No Limit Hold’em Main Event (High) and the $50 Main Event (Low) which has a $30,000 guarantee. Both the high and low winners of the NJSCOOP Main Events will receive a Platinum Pass package.

The highly coveted Platinum Pass packages are each worth over $30,000 and include entry into next year’s $25,000 buy-in Poker Player’s NL Hold’em Championship as well as fully sponsored stay at the Atlantis Resorts in Nassau.

Unlike last year’s event, this year’s NJSCOOP schedule added five more high and low tournaments as well as an additional $100,000 in guarantees with buy-ins ranging from $5 to $1000. Majority of buy-ins range between $100 and $200 for the high events and between $10 and $20 for low events. While most of the events will be No Limit Hold’em, there will be a decent dose of mixed-games such as 8-game HORSE. Still, participants will be treated to a healthy selection of No Limit Hold’em variations including progressive KO, escalating antes and win the button.

Since there is a Platinum Pass on the line, it will certainly be a surprise if the event sees another record turnout – for the very first time, PokerStars exceeded the $200,000 guarantee for its main event last year. Naturally, as proven by the results of previous events and the history of the series the high events are likely to outperform the low events.

Bitcoin Crashes Again amid Social Media Ban on Crypto Ads

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Just a few months after Facebook banned cryptocurrency adverts on its platform, Twitter has followed in its footsteps by confirming reports from earlier this month that it was implementing a global crackdown on ads for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Twitter’s updated Restricted Content Policies now requires any project seeking to conduct a token sale to have proof of legal regulation in the targeted country before it is allowed to run adds on the social platform. The same goes for cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets which will now have to be publicly-listed companies on major stock markets.

Bitcoin dropped 12 percent in January after Facebook, which happens to be the world’s second-largest online advertiser, said it would be banning all adverts that promote cryptocurrencies in a bid to prevent what it termed as “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” Twitter’s updated policy is more or less giving the same vibe since the terms it has set are meant to curb the same problem. The policy effectively requires that any adverts for financial products and services must be compatible with all applicable laws in the target countries and the all information regarding the products or services must be provided to the investors. Also, the owners of the ads will have to provide necessary disclosures as well as balanced information detailing the risks and benefits.

Reddit Also Jumps Ship

In similar news, Reddit, another popular social media website, will no longer be accepting bitcoin as payment for the platform’s Reddit Gold membership program. While there is still hope that the payment option may be reinstated in the future, players will have to manage with the existing options, that is, PayPal and credit cards. According to “emoney04”, a Reddit admin, the removal of bitcoin as a payment option was prompted by the upcoming Coinbase change and “some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users.”

“We’re going to take a look at demand and watch the progression of Coinbase Commerce before making a decision on whether to re-enable,” the administrator said.

Kansas Sports Betting Bill Calls for Integrity Fee

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Professional sports leagues might just get what they want after all with the introduction of a sports betting bill in the state of Kansas that called for the inclusion of an integrity fee. The bill which was brought forward by the Committee on Federal and State Affairs of Kansas is the third sports betting-related bill to be introduced in the state.

Introduced on March 22, the bill will allow the Kansas Lottery to sports betting to players over the age of 21. This will be limited to the lottery’s facilities and will be through contracted lottery retailers, its web platform and mobile platforms as well as through an interactive and dedicated sports betting platform. This still depends on how the United States Supreme Court will rule on the petition regarding the federal ban on betting.

S.B. 455, the bill, gives the Gaming Commission the final say on the types of wagers and game restrictions. Kansas lawmakers, however, will be expecting no less than a 6.75 percent cut from the sports betting operators. They went further to take note of sports betting legislative developments in New York and have thus decided to include the pro sports leagues’ integrity fee as one of the requirements of the bill. The sports betting right and integrity fee was set at 0.25 percent of the handle but the lawmakers capped it at 5 percent of the sports betting revenue.

“All revenues from sports wagering conducted by the Kansas lottery shall be remitted to the state treasurer and deposited in the lottery operating fund in according with K.S.A 7408711, and amendments thereto,” one of the S.B. 455 provisions read.

While many gambling operators are eagerly waiting for the Supreme Court ruling, a number of stakeholders and interested parties are anticipating that the federal ban on sports betting will be lifted. The professional sports leagues are by far the most vocal – the Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have been lobbying for the inclusion of an integrity fee in state sports betting regulations. According to the leagues, this fee will serve as an insurance to the “risks”  that sports betting will bring to their brands.

NBA Getting into Esports with Creation of New League

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The inevitable advance of competitive video gaming, otherwise known as Esports, will break new ground in April when the National Basketball Association (NBA) makes history by becoming the first American professional sports organization to operate a dedicated Esports league. So far, 17 of the 30 NBA franchises have confirmed they will be fielding their own NBA 2k League teams in pursuit of the $1 million prize fund. Still, more teams are being invited to join the NBA 2K League.

To qualify to be a participant in the new league, prospective players must be at least 18 years old and be high school graduates. Also, they must have purchased a copy of the game either for PlayStation or Xbox and won no less than 50 games in Pro-Am mode prior to January 2018. Every player who meets these requirements can look forward to a six-month contract worth $35,000 as well as a $32,000 basic salary. These lucky players will be the top 102 ranking applicants of the tens of thousands who applied and they will be taking part in the opening round of the games in May.

Considered to Be the NBA’s Fourth Branch

Other than the $35,000 six-month contract and the $32,000 basic salary, the players will also have the opportunity to supplement their incomes by signing various endorsement deals. To sweeten the deal, the NBA job will also include a retirement plan, medical insurance and housing! Considering how big this budget is, the NBA certainly has huge expectations for this new venture.

In fact, NBA’s vice president of global partnerships Matt Holt confirmed that the NBA considers the eLeague to be the fourth of its branches alongside the WNBA, minor G League and even the NBA itself. This is further proven by the fact that the benefits offered to Esports players are at par with those offered to professional basketballers.

Getting a Piece of the Esports Gold Mine

The NBA’s interest in online gaming is well founded – the Esports community boasts of approximately 130 million competitive video gamers from all corners of the globe. This makes it one of the fastest growing markets in the world of entertainment with its estimated value standing at $1 billion at the moment.

NBA’s partnership with NBA 2K is an attempt at becoming one of the lucrative tournaments that have been springing up across the globe where professional Esports teams compete for huge prize money as millions of viewers watch online.

The league is taking a slightly innovative approach – they eventually seek to have an eLeague counterpart for every regular-season NBA team. The idea here is that the leagues will be complementing each other. Case in point, the NBA 2K games will kick off in May and run all through the summer, the period during NBA’s offseason.

March Madness Elevates Focus on Sports Betting in the U.S

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The 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, commonly referred to as “March Madness”, kicked off last week with 68 teams going against each other in a single-elimination tournament that is stretched over three weeks and will culminate in the crowning of 2018’s NCAA champion. As usual, this means brackets, office pools and, of course, lots of betting – both legal and illegal. In fact, according to the American Gaming Association, $10 billion will be wagered during the three-week tournament with most of it being illegal since sports betting is not yet legal in most of the United States.

March Madness has also been one of the annual events that attract extra attention towards the need for the legalization of sports betting in the United States – the numbers are so good that states want a piece of the pool so that they can tax it. Experts consider illegal gambling to be untapped revenue that the states are missing out on.

Fortunately, this year the context of the efforts to legalize sports betting has shifted thanks to a petition filed by the state of New Jersey seeking for the legalization of nation-wide sports betting. The final ruling is to be delivered by the United States Supreme Court and this could be as soon as April.

Over a dozen states, West Virginia and New York included, have proposed laws to legalize sports betting and the only obstacle to the new development is the 1992 law that confines sports betting mostly to Nevada. Keeping this in mind, the American Gaming Association issued its annual estimate regarding March Madness betting where it arrived at the $10 billion estimate. Of this entire amount, only $300 million or thereabouts is expected to come from legal sports betting in Nevada sports books. Evidently, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling will play a pivotal role in creating a revolutionized gambling atmosphere for all the interested parties. Luckily for everyone, the wait is almost over.