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.

India Can’t Regulate Bitcoin, Says Former Indian Bureaucrat

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India has been struggling with regulating cryptocurrencies for quite some time now mostly because of the strong aversion the governments has towards digital currencies but they are yet to ban any. Now, a former Indian top finance ministry official insists that bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies, should be completely banned in the country.

Shaktikanta Das, who is a former secretary of economic affairs, believes that regulating bitcoin is going to be quite tough and thus the only feasible alternative would be to outlaw their use. Das headed the Indian government’s first panel that was set up in April 2017 in a bid to understand and recommend necessary regulations pertaining to cryptocurrencies. Currently, Das is a member of the 15th finance commission which has been tasked with reviewing the financial situation of the present government.

“Let us accept that it would not be possible to regulate it effectively. Because they will do transactions from their houses. You cannot enter every home to check what transactions are going on. So, I think this is a serious challenge, and this should not be allowed at all,” Das said.

The Indian government’s aversion to cryptocurrencies can be traced back to 2013 when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) warned its customers against the potential security threats that were associated with digital currencies. Despite this, and multiple other warnings from the country’s ministry of finance and the RBI that followed since then, cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity even among people who were considered to be “conservative” Indian investors.

Why Das’ Opinion Matters

Shaktikanta Das has held a number of key positions in India’s ministry of finance including being the head of the departments of economic affairs and revenue. He has also served as a board member of the Indian market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India – both institutions play a monumental role in the drafting of cryptocurrency regulations in India.

Das argues that since the Reserve Bank of India is the only institution allowed to issue currency in India, cryptocurrencies are essentially illegal. He further pointed out that cryptocurrencies are paralleling present financial frameworks without any backing from legal provisions.

“There is the danger of cryptocurrencies leading to money laundering, terror financing, and unaccounted transactions. It will pose a serious threat to the financial stability not only of India, and in fact more, in the case of the developed world,” he added. “It’s a serious challenge and threat to global financial stability.”

The Drew Las Vegas Casino Resort Set to Open in 2020

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Global development firm Witkoff and Marriott International have partnered in a bid to open a new integrated resort and casino on the site of a project that was previously known as the Fontainebleau Las Vegas. The large casino-resort whose construction on the Las Vegas Strip has been left unfinished since 2009 is now scheduled to launch towards the end of 2020 under a new moniker – The Drew Las Vegas.

The site initially hosted the Thunderbird Hotel and Casino that opened in 1948, after which it was later renamed to Silverbird then El Rancho before it was finally closed in 1992. Eight years later in 2000, Fountainbleau Resorts purchased the property but after imploding El ranch bought additional acreage and began a construction project that was halted in 2009 before it was sold to Icahn Enterprises’ L.P.’s majority shareholder Carl Icahn for $600 million.

In addition to featuring a casino and about 4,000 rooms and suites, the new luxury entertainment project will also be hosting the Las Vegas strip’s first JW Marriot. Also, once open, Marriot International will be responsible for managing the hotels.

“It is going to be a design-forward building, and when we bring it all together, people are going to say, ‘I really want to come back,’” said Steven Witkoff, chairman, and CEO of Witkoff. “The structure here is so well conceived, even from nine years ago, that there are a lot of possibilities for us to put our imprint from a design standpoint on that property.”

What to Expect

The resort is expected to include 50,000 square feet of convention and meeting space alongside a variety of nightlife, entertainment, retail and over 20 dining options. Witkoff further mentioned that while the building’s design is yet to be finalized, the existing eight-and-a-half acre pool deck will be redesigned to make it stand out among all other in Las Vegas.

Another project that is also in the works and has an anticipated 2020 launch date is the multibillion-dollar Resorts World Las Vegas that is going to lean more towards Chinese and Chinese-American tourists. In total, the two projects will be offering 7,000 rooms to the area and this will also be at about the same time that a mega expansion of the Las Vegas Conventions Centre will be completed. Looks like Sin City is about to get even more exciting.

Overwatch’s Shanghai Dragons Announces First Female Player

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The Overwatch League has finally announced the first ever female player – there has been a tremendous amount of speculation regarding the matter in recent weeks and the League officially confirmed it on the team Twitter on Wednesday. The announcement also comes after recent discussions pertaining to the lack of female players in the very popular Esports title.

“I’m kind of shocked with the absence of women in the Overwatch League teams. For such a diverse game, with more than half of its roster being girls, it’s kind of disappointing. Girls play games too, and the lack of representation is not okay,” one critic pointed out on a Twitter post.

In what might seems to be an acknowledgment of concerns by critics, Shanghai Dragons, the team, announced the signing of four new players, who included Kim “Geguri” Se-Yeon, who will be the Overwatch League’s first female player. Joining Geguri will be Le “Fearless” Eui-Seok, He “Sky” Junjian and Chon “Ado” Gi-Hyeon.

The Shanghai Dragons have had a good number of wins in previous seasons and it seems that the only way to go is up. However, the team will have to brace itself for the uphill task it will have to try and make their way up the overall standings in a bid to reach the playoffs by the end of the season. The newly signed players are going to be a critical part of this journey. For instance, Fearless is a tank main who previously played with Element Mystic while Ado is a great DPS player with great strength on Genji and many other Attack heroes. Sky, also, is recognized mostly for his Ana play in China’s Miraculous Youngster squad – in essence, he will be adding a great deal of flexibility to the team.

Being the first ever female player in the Overwatch League is definitely going to make Geguri the biggest name of the four newly signed games, but she brings so much more to the table. She had her first brushes with mainstream popularity within the competitive gaming community for her Zarya play, where she had an amazing 80 percent win rate. While other players thought that she was cheating, it turns out that she just that good. The Shanghai Dragons also seemed to be particularly impressed by her expanded hero pool that now includes D.Va, Roadhog as well as Zarya at higher levels.

Hopefully, these new additions will better Shanghai Dragons’ luck – they have not won a single series in the first stage of the season.

MGM Cotai Finally Opens in Macau As License Renewal Looms

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On Tuesday, MGM Resorts International finally opened its $3.4 billion casino resorts in Macau, a venture that is latest big bet by foreign gaming operators on the Chinese gambling haven. MGM Cotai, the casino, opens after months of delays and will be the new highlight if Macau’s Cotai Strip with its 1,390-room hotel-casino offering. Also, with the Chinese Lunar New Year just around the corner, the casino is expected to draw in massive crowds within the next few days of its launch.

MGM Resorts International is one of the six licensed casino operators in Macau which is the only place in China where the citizens can gamble legally. However, MGM’s operational license in the region is due to expire in 2020 alongside SJM Holdings’ license. The other four operators, that is, Wynn Macau, Sands China, Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment, on the other hand, will be able to operate normally until 2022 when their licenses expire.

While Macau authorities are yet to provide more information regarding the renewal of the licenses, the launch of the new MGM Casino in Cotai is anticipated to hasten the process in one way or the other. In fact, Grant Bowie, the chief executive of MGM China, MGM Resorts International’s Macau unit, believes that the launch was critical for the concession renewal process.

“Concession renewals will be determined on diversifying Macau into more than just a gaming town,” Bowie told a news conference.

Riding the Revenue Boom?

As the license expiration dates draw nearer, MGM Resorts and other operators have worked tirelessly towards diversifying their non-gaming offering in a bid to pacify Beijing which has grown more wary about Macau’s acute dependence and reliance on gambling – 80 percent of revenue in Macau is derived from gambling.

At the moment, Macau gambling revenues are on the upswing having risen by 19 percent in the last year to $34 billion following years of declining fortunes as a result of wealthy Chinese gamblers shying away from the casinos to avoid being probed by an extended corruption campaign by President Xi Jinping. These Chinese high rollers who are making a come-back to the casinos helped to propel Macau’s rapid transformation into what is now considered to be a global gambling powerhouse.

Analysts are anticipating that MGM Cotai will open with about 177 mass gaming tables. VIP gaming is expected to be handled by middlemen junkets that are likely to go live by the end of the first half of year alongside MGM Resorts’ luxury mansion villas.

Mining Fees Surge as China Intensifies Crackdown on Bitcoin

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This week, the Chinese government intensified its efforts to stop bitcoin mining by calling for all the task forces to “actively guide” in the closure of bitcoin mining operations. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the notice by Chinese authorities called for an “orderly exit with no specific deadline. The report further stated that the reason for the intensification of China’s efforts against bitcoin mining was because it “consumes a large amount of electricity and also encourages a spirit of speculation in virtual currencies.” On the same note, the Chinese authorities believe that bitcoin mining is among a host of activities that are not particularly in line with the needs of the real economy.

Chinese government officials have been asked to wield a policy ax on bitcoin which implies that they will be required to cite or promulgate regulations to limit aspects of bitcoin mining such as land use, electricity consumption, environmental regulation and tax collection.

The Role of China in the World of Bitcoin

To put the importance of China in the bitcoin ecosystem into perspective, we can take a look at the last month of 2017 when China accounted for 80% of all the bitcoins mined in the world. These impressive percentages are mostly attributed to the numerous advantages that the country offers to bitcoin manners including cheap electricity as well as centralized mining operations, both of which are key sustainers of the price of bitcoin.

Will Global Bitcoin Mining Operations Take a Hit?

Regardless of all the perks of operating within China, bitcoin mining operations will not have a lot of trouble once the crackdown begins.

In fact, a number of renowned bitcoin mining operations have already exited China and moved to other areas that offer nearly the same advantages that China offered.  A great example is Bitmain, which is considered to be the largest bitcoin mining pool in the world, that recently set up shop in Inner Mongolia.

Some other mining operations are moving to cooler climes and according to numerous reports, Canada seems to be one of the locations that will benefit from the migration of mining operations. Meanwhile, since the Chinese government did not issue any strict deadline pertaining to the “orderly exit,” the price of bitcoin will not experience any radical volatility.

Metal Casino Signs Ozzy Osbourne as Brand Ambassador

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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 apparelat 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.

2017’s Biggest Casino Mergers and Acquisitions

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This year was a memorable one for the casino industry with various parts of the industry being affected by one thing or the other. Mergers and acquisitions were some of the major highlights for the multi-billion-dollar industry. While we got to see some of the most notable conglomerates from Las Vegas sell off properties and restructure their portfolios, some other renowned gaming operators joined forces with manufacturers with one of the amalgamations falling short of the expectations when a key stockholder thwarted the union. Obviously, 2018 will begin on quite a different note from what we experienced at the beginning of 2017.

Caesars Entertainment’s Big Year

Nevada-based gaming corporation faired on very well this year thanks to the stakes it had in all the entities that were part of 2017’s biggest merger. In October, Caesars which owns and operates more than 50 casinos and hotels in the US and other parts of the globe announced that it was finally out the woods in regards to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – this had been dubbed the ‘largest and most complex bankruptcy in a generation.’ The gaming power-house merged two of its operating entities and then it formed a real estate investment fund (REIT).

The agreement allows Caesars Entertainment to keep operating the gaming floors as well as maintaining ownership of most of the company’s resorts. The real estate investment fund (REIT) will, however, take ownership of 18 properties that including Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The REIT is expected to lease gaming the gaming floors back to Caesars and pay creditors who were not paid during Caesar’s bankruptcy.

Other Headliners

Another merger that made the headlines this year was between Connecticut’s Native American gaming operators, the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket tribes who joined forces to build a satellite facility in a bid to outcompete MGM Springfield, a satellite casino expected to launch in 2018.

June saw yet another key transaction for the casino industry when Tavern, slot route, and renowned casino operator Golden Entertainment jointly acquired American Casino and Entertainment. The $850 million deal is widely praised for the great things that came after it including putting two Arizona Charlie’s casinos and the Stratosphere under the Golden banner.

Jennifer Lopez, Stan Kroenke, and Gillette Get into Esports

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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 broadcastsTwitch 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.”

Molly’s Game: The Ultimate Christmas Treat for Poker Lovers

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Are you a poker enthusiast or an avid follower of the game? Well, Christmas is here and you can get in on a bit of poker fun while you enjoy the festivities. If you are into the idea of mixing fun and your poker hobbies, then an amazing poker movie might be in cards (pun intended). Molly’s Game, the latest attempt at a poker movie hit theatres for a limited release on December 22nd and it is so good that there is already Oscar buzz going around. The buzz, of course, does not matter if you have a fondness for poker because you will certainly love it anyway.

Molly’s Game stars Jessica Chastain as the titular lead of the film and Idris Elba as her attorney with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin taking the helm with this being his first directorial venture. If you are not familiar with Molly’s Game then the first thing you need to do is to get acquainted with Molly Bloom, the poker celebrity who authored the book of the same name which the movie is based on. Just in case you are wondering, especially if you still have no idea who Molly Bloom is, it is not the regular ‘underdog-beats-odds-and-triumphs’ stories. We will try to break this down without giving you any spoilers in the process.

Molly’s Game, the book that the movie is based on, was Bloom’s expose of the time she spent operating and running the biggest underground cash games in the United States.

The book details Bloom’s hustle that saw her cash in a good deal of money from the tips that she got from the players who ranged from Hollywood actors and directors to New York’s politicians, stockbrokers, and hedge fund managers. You can also expect a bit of action as the business was not a bed of roses for Bloom – she abused drugs, had a few nasty run-ins with the Russian mob and eventually was arrested by federal agents and charged with illegal gambling. The poker community has already dubbed the movie the ‘next big poker film.’ It is that good!

Just like her book, the movie does not mention any names – if you were expecting to see some high profile celebrity names get dropped you are going to be very disappointed by the turn of events. No dirt is revealed, at least not in the cinematic version of the tale. The book does, however, name-drop Tobey Maguire who comes off as some sort of douchebag – read the book if you want to find out how. Merry Christmas!