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Well, it is about time! We have gotten used to having soccer, football and basketball superstars diving into the eSports arena and now Fernando Alonso is set to be the first Formula One (F1) racer with an eSports team. The team has been launched in partnership with Logitech and G2 eSports with the McLaren Honda driver serving as the team’s principal. To show eSports enthusiasts just how serious they are, the team has even already enlisted Cem Bolukbasi, an F1 eSports league finalist, who will participate in a number of games across different platforms. Furthermore, Alonso’s F1 outfit, McLaren, recently confirmed that they had signed Rudy van Buren the victor of the “world’s fastest gamer”, a competition McLaren themselves had created to find someone of such capacity. Rudy was nominated by Alonso himself to be the official simulator driver for the next season in 2018 – all thanks to his amazing simulation racing skills and engineering knowledge. McLaren also becomes the first and only eSports racing team with an eSports director. The eSports team, according to Alonso, is open to any gamer with the ‘talent to perform’.
Alonso had quite a lot to say about his new endeavor during the announcement of Yas Island’s Formula One (F1) circuit;
“I am really excited. A couple of months ago I had this proposal from one of our partners, and I thought it was a nice idea to create and link these two sports. The fans will no longer be spectators. The fans will no longer just be spectators. The fans will be a key role in my world and they will drive for my team maybe one day. I think we all have a gamer inside us, and competition is no different. I am extremely happy and there are unlimited possibilities in our team. An elite team, professional team, racing in the best races in the world – especially here in the F1 championship, but not only here – in Refactor, the world’s fastest gamer from McLaren, in the E-simulators, and that is something we will explore with time.”
The F1 superstar has never been one to shy away from his support of existing racing simulators citing them as a being an area worthy of exploration. Massive changes in technology have seen the racing simulators get better and better, which may in future even blur the line between real F1 races and simulations. Alonso adds that this is a logical extension as he considers each and every F1 driver to be a ‘gamer at heart.’ The virtual space opens new doors for younger racers who might not get the opportunity to race in the real world as well as the younger audiences. Virtual racing has often been played an important promotional tool for finding the next big thing in car racing – people have actually taken motorsports into career considerations after being motivated by eSports.
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The National Basketball Association (NBA) was recently reported to have changed its position regarding the state of legalized nationwide sportsbetting. This shift comes with the revelation that the organization intends to rally behind Congress members seeking reforms in the existing sportsbetting laws. A report from Legal Sports Report stated that NBA would not actively advocate for the repeal of the Professional Amateur Sports and Protection Act (PASPA), despite standing behind the regulation of legalized gambling.
NBA is also purported to have joined forces with National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) in the US Supreme Court a month ago to defend the legislation that restricted sports betting or wagering to venues in Delaware, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada.
In last week’s Sports Betting USA conference in New York, NBA Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Dan Spillane had the following to say;
“Our view has been that if it’s illegal, that’s not the right way to start off legal sportsbetting in the United States; under a cloud doing it in violation of federal law. At the same time, we agree with New Jersey on the ultimate policy outcome that having legal and regulated sportsbetting in the United States is the best place to end up. The disagreement is just on how to get there.”
This also comes on the onset of a lawsuit seeking to overrule a 25-year-old federal legislation that restricts sportsbetting to only four states in the US. Dan Spillane is further reported to have assured the public of ‘a little bit more clarity’ once the issue is settled which would then create room for more open discussions regarding legalizing sportsbetting in all the remaining states. NBA’s rowback has been welcomed by the American Gaming Association lobby group whose CEO, Geoff Freeman, recently proclaimed that the group was in the same boat with NBA as far as ‘commitment to integrity and rigorous regulation’ are concerned.
In similar news, the value of illegal sportsbetting has risen to nearly $200 billion in the US – which accounts for about 97 percent of all of the country’s sportsbetting. These findings seem to be partially responsible for propelling the demands and subsequent lawsuits seeking for the legalization of the multibillion-dollar sportsbetting market. With the case for the legalization of sportsbetting to be heard next month by the Supreme Court, the significance of illegal sportsbetting in the US market is speculated to cause major ripples. Policy experts have had their fair share of criticism (and support) for the legislative restrictions that have been raised against sportsbetting in all but the four states mentioned earlier, terming the laws as ‘madness’ – but it is hard to tell how this will affect the Supreme Court’s landmark hearing that is only a few weeks away.