eSports Goes Global as Alibaba Bets On Long-Term Gains

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In the past couple of years, the Alibaba Group has put in some pretty huge investments in eSports with large-scale tournaments as well as a significant Asia Olympics bid. Formed and launched in 2015, Alibaba’s sports arm Alisports has always had its sight set on cashing in on the rapidly evolving world of eSports where video game pros square off in video game tournaments with huge cash prizes. Considering the millions of online viewers that are drawn into eSports tournaments, it is quite evident that the booming eSports industry is on its way to unprecedented highs in the next few years. While no significant strides have been made in regards to attracting a lot of sponsors and television rights, eSports have been backed by some great sports stars and with Alisports consistently pushing its limits in regards to the same, we should see the efforts paying off handsomely very soon.

Alisports’ first series of its World Electronic Sports Games reportedly cost the company about $22 million but the results were not very impressive – it was followed by a seventy percent loss in the investment. However, Alibaba is not throwing in the towel just yet since they are already predicting that their tournaments will continue raking in losses for the at least the next half-decade and that is a financial hit that the Chinese commerce mega-corporation is prepared to take.

“We are prepared to lose money. We can accept the losses now as we hope to promote this sport,” said Alisports CEO Zhang Dazhong in an interview with AFP, “For a sport that has a lot of participation, it must have a bright future. Even if for now you don’t make a lot of money, in the future, you’ll definitely be rewarded. This is something we firmly believe in.”

He further added, “We estimate that in five to ten years the business model will be more complete. On top of the competitions, we have to bear in mind the electronics business and marketing related to eSports.”

Findings from a recent study by Deloitte revealed that participation in eSports has bloomed especially on the onset of the traction gain of virtual games in the recent past – as of now, the worldwide eSports audience is estimated to consist of around 400 million people which close in on the numbers for baseball and American football. This year, the size of the eSports market is anticipated to double to about $696 million from the $325 million recorded in 2015 when Alisports was launched. Despite the fragmentation of the eSports market, Alisports and its parent company Alibaba believes that being that they are the global eSports powerhouse they are assured of plentiful returns from eSports in coming years. This tremendous leap in eSports popularity has propelled a lot of discussions regarding the inclusion of professional eSport gaming as an Olympic discipline – while not everyone is convinced about such prospects Alisports’ CEO hopes eSPorts will be part of the Olympics in 2024 or 2028.

Is The Ban on Sportsbetting on the Verge of Being Overruled?

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The tide is turning again and soon we should see some significant changes in regards to the state of sportsbetting in the US. Once considered to be nothing more than a long shot, the idea of legalized sportsbetting has come a long way and can now be said to be a safe bet thanks to the efforts of like-minded individuals including U.S Rep. Frank Pallone. Pallone who has been championing the legalization of sportsbetting, however, clarified that his involvement was not in any way personal after speculations about his motives arose;

“I do not bet. People think I am a gambler because of all of this, but I am not.”

The federal ban on full-fledged sports betting outside the state of Nevada has been in place for 25 years now but significant changes are expected to be initiated by Frank Pallone and other like-minded lawmakers who are going to have to face off against pro-PASPA politicians. According to Public Affairs for the American Gaming Association vice president, Sara Slane, fifteen states have already prepared relevant legislation that will authorize sports gambling as soon as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is overturned. This could be as early as 2018.

“You already are starting to see states get in front of this issue,’’ she said. “And again, I think that speaks to the desire to want to administer sports betting if they so choose to.’’

Oral arguments about PASPA’s constitutionality are set for a hearing at the Supreme Court on Monday with the nine justices expected to issue a ruling on the same by spring 2018.  A lot of pressure has been diverted to this particular legislation and now even Utah, a state where there is no gambling has teamed up with 19 other states to sign a court filing that seeks for the abolishment PASPA on the grounds that it infringes on the rights of individual states. In addition to this, the American Gaming Association has also pointed out that PASPA has indirectly facilitated an underground sportsbetting industry that is not regulated, avoids billions of dollars in taxes and is worth well over $150 billion dollars.

At this point, Pallone and like-minded lawmakers do not need to put in too much effort to be heard as far as the abolishment of PASPA is concerned – the reason being that his quest for the legalization of sportsbetting has been endorsed by many other powerful entities. One of these powerful organizations includes the Capitol Hill-based American Gaming Association which is funded by casinos. Much of the research used to preach the benefits of the legalization of sportsbetting has been paid for by this organization something that has been labeled as a concerted campaign that is hell-bent on liberating the sportsbetting industry.

Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association president is of the opinion that a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court would, of course, be welcome but it is not vital at this point in time. According to him, support for the repeal of PASPA has continued to grow and will most likely have more influence on how the legislation plays out.

Survivalists and Doomsday Preppers Switching from Gold to Bitcoin

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It is now safe to say that this is officially Bitcoin week. Other than just breaking barriers and reaching all-time highs of over $11,000 the decentralized digital currency has also caused quite a stir in the financial world. People have been wondering what the hell is happening right now in regards to Bitcoin’s speculated price changes. Will it go higher? Will it crash again? By now, Bitcoin has already managed to dwarf some of the largest financial market bubbles in history – and if it is indeed a bubble, then what next for its enthusiastic adopters?

Some North American doomsday and survivalist preppers, however, have a different opinion regarding Bitcoin. In addition to the usual humongous supply of nonperishable food that they usually have stacked away in their doomsday bunkers, the preppers are now ditching the habit of stockpiling gold bars and coins for the invisible Bitcoin wallets in cyberspace – they are confident about the internet staying intact even if the world’s civilization collapses. Devoted survivalists are convinced that the decentralized cryptocurrency is definitely going to survive or endure global pandemics, economic collapse, catastrophes, climate change and even nuclear war. Very enticing, right?

While it seems rather counter-intuitional that some of Bitcoin’s most fervent proponents are a group of people whose motivation is in the belief that public and global infrastructures will crumple on the onset of social, economic and political distress, it is undeniable that these same group of people are partly key determinants of Bitcoin’s future. As it happens, these survivalists have very different perspectives when it comes to Bitcoin which they have labeled the currency of the future – this has been further propelled by Bitcoin’s 900% plus increase within the last ten months. To these people, Bitcoin is going to rival the euro, the dollar, the yen and even gold all of which are not doomsday-proof.

“People see Bitcoin prices going to the moon. No one thinks gold is going to the moon”

There have always been discussions about the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies especially on survivalist forums such as and and from what we could gather, the tides have shifted significantly. To put this into perspective, as Bitcoin’s value soars higher and higher more people are considering investing in decentralized digital currencies – now “buy Bitcoin” registers as a far more popular search phrase on Google as compared to “buy gold.” In fact, the US Mint’s gold coin sales are reported to have recorded decade-lows within the first quarter of 2017.  Still, the faith in Bitcoin can perhaps be attributed to its similarity to gold – both have a finite supply which, according to Bitcoin supporters, makes it immune to inflation. Digital currencies have been portrayed as the ‘knight in shining armor’ when it comes to breaking the society’s dependence on state monopoly over the issuance of currencies in a bid to dominate the economy. Bitcoin is definitely on a roll but is the quest for economic liberation enough to keep it going? Who knows? Maybe what everyone really needs is a guide to surviving Bitcoin, or surviving with Bitcoin.

PlayOJO Wins Malta iGaming’s Casino of the Year Award

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PlayOJO, which is a relatively new online casino has gained a lot of popularity in the recent past and now they have received another form of recognition. The Malta iGaming Awards recently crowned the new but popular PlayOJO Casino as 2017’s best casino operator. Malta’s iGaming Awards have always caused quite a stir in the online casino industry especially due to the prominence that accompanies the awards as well as their significance in terms of both local and international recognition.

The award did not come as a surprise considering the fact that PlayOJO has always strived to provide its customers with nothing but the best with its unique and innovative approach towards online gaming. Among the nominees were other equally impressive casino operators with outstanding backgrounds and excellent reputations which means that the competition was rather tight. However, the SkillOnNet powered PlayOJO emerged the winner – which makes it their second win after receiving the prestigious EGR Rising Star of the Year Award a few weeks ago.

Despite being in operation for just a little over a year, PlayOJO has most certainly created a lot of buzz in the world of online gambling by introducing some very innovative solutions as well as new technology to the industry. PlayOJO Casino’s Ohad Narkis was very excited about receiving the award something that he says proves their level of professionalism and commitment to providing the best online gambling experiences. He further thanked the judges for their honest opinions regarding the casino’s operational model and assured every player that they would definitely improve every aspect of it as they move along.

“We are delighted to have been named Casino Operator of the Year at the Malta iGaming Awards. Despite launching less than a year ago, we have already made a significant impact on the industry by taking the player experience to the next level. This award recognizes the hard work and dedication of the PlayOJO team, and I’d like to thank the judges for rewarding our achievements and successes in this way.”

Since it went live back in February, PlayOJO has proved to be a force to reckon with by being a disruptive challenger to most of the online casino operators, especially in the UK. Some unique features that have attracted a plethora of online gamblers include their responsible gambling policy as well as the money back option offered for every bet that a player places. However, the biggest selling point of PlayOJO’s operational model has been its approach when it comes to the casino bonuses and reward – they are all available to customers with no wagering requirements.

Resorts World Catskills Still on Track for Launch in 2018

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The fourth, and the last, of the upstate casinos authorized under the gambling expansion in New York, Resort World Catskills, is still expected to launch within the first quarter of 2018. The Acting of Director of the state Gambling Commission, Don Ochrym, in a recent press release confirmed that the casino is expected to kick off its operations by March 1st next year. Resort World Catskills is to be opened in Monticello, Sullivan County with over 200 participants expected to join in – casino machines are already being delivered and dealer training schools have already begun training people expected to work for the new establishment.

Previously known Montreign, the Resorts World casino by the time of its completion is anticipated to have used up at least $1.2 billion – but considering the revenue that the casino is expected to rake in, the budget can be said to be worth every penny.

In September the Times Union in a report acknowledged that these new casinos (Resorts World Catskills and three others that have been opened in the last year) are the state’s economic engines though they lagged behind in the first-year revenue projections. However, these financial struggles are expected to change a bit with industry officials and local stakeholders saying that it takes time to see whether a business is going to be a success in the long term especially if it is a casino.

The 1.6-million-square-foot, five-star Resort World Catskills is further promising customers of certain key features that will set it apart from all the existing casinos. Charlie Degliomini, who is the executive vice president of Resorts World Catskills parent company, Empire Resorts says that once construction is complete and the casino is officially complete, they expect up to 4 million visitors every year. He further pointed out that the casino’s core offering will be luxury as portrayed by the personal pools, private balconies, garden suites as well as the elite-guest gyms for third-floor residents – and, of course, not forgetting the three bars and six eateries.

Guests looking to grab a quick bite will love the food court and when they are not gaming they can indulge in a bit golfing on the casino’s Rees Jones-redesigned 18-hole golf course! Alternatively, there is a salon where they can get their nails down as they unwind or prepare for the next games.

Regardless, gambling is still going to be the biggest moneymaker for Resorts World Catskills. Degliomini expects that about three-quarters of its 332 suites will be allocated to the casino section to accommodate all the 130 table games and the 2,150 slot machines.

So far, everyone seems to be happy about the resort-casino project – local union leaders are so enthused about the project’s utilization of an all-union workforce of over 680 construction workers which gets even better as the number is expected to rise to 800 as the launch date nears. The union’s representatives are also excited about the great post-launch prospects that the casino will have for the local economy – about 1,400 jobs will be created at the main hotel, the golf course, and the casino.

F1 Racer Fernando Alonso Gets Into The Esports Action

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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.

NBA Shifts Its Position on Legalized Sportsbetting

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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.

Why Zimbabwe Locals Can’t Get Enough of Bitcoin

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Everyone knows that Bitcoin is a safe haven for those who live in countries with political turmoil because the government can’t control it. Citizens of Zimbabwe are far from trusting their own government due to their unreliable political leaders.

Just last week the price of one bitcoin hit $13000 (USD) which is astonishingly almost double the international market price. This sudden rise in demand can be attributed to the news that president Robert Mugabe was put under house arrest by military leaders.

As political turmoil increases in Zimbabwe, the price of Bitcoin can only keep growing as the people lose faith in their government controlled local currency and financial companies. Bitcoin is by far their best option as a storage of value that guarantees security.

It was reported that the top Zimbabwe cryptocurrency exchange, Golix, had processed trading volumes of more than $1 million this past month which is a record breaking number for the country. In these 30 days alone, it had beat the 2016 year by almost tenfold.

“It is an unregulated platform and prices for bitcoin and other currencies are set by supply and demand”
– Taurai Chinyamakobvu, co-owner of Golix

Zimbabwe has always had an issue with currency inflation and it was not until 2009 that hyperinflation made the Zimbabwean dollar worthless. With no local currency, they have been forced to use US dollars and South African rand. It’s safe to say that more and more citizens will slowly transition to cryptocurrencies as global presence increases.

It is likely that Zimbabwe is only one of the many countries where its people will see huge value in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that allow them to be in control of their own money. Although he advantages of the digital coin are obvious, it’s difficult to say what will happen in the future in terms of possible regulations and bans.