According to the Vietnam News Agency, the Vietnamese police have busted an online gambling operation that has taken in over one billion dollars with hundreds of thousands of accounts. Twenty-three Vietnamese persons and one foreigner were taken into custody for organizing online gambling with it’s servers outside Vietnam. The bust is said to be the largest-ever internet betting operation in the communist country.
Vietnamese law currently states that only government licensed gambling operations are legal. There are stiff fines and severe prison sentences for those found to be in violation of that law. The bust of such a large scale betting operation has triggered massive raids in cities and provinces across the country.
Gamblers who visited the website Fxx88.com, now off line, had to deposit cash into certain banks in exchange for virtual money for betting. Apparently, multiple bank accounts were set up for these cash deposits in order to stay ‘under the radar’.
Contrarily, Vietnam has recently been loosening up it restrictions on gambling, allowing Vietnamese to gamble in local casinos and even allowing some sports betting. However, the lucrative illegal operations have sprung up by the dozens triggering this huge government crackdown. Just last year another gambling ring was taken out by police when they arrested 91 Vietnamese; some of them were high ranking government officials.
In a surprise move, Iraq’s parliament has passed legislation that bans some popular online video games including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite’s Battle Royale. The lawmakers claim that these online games promote violence, killing, and extreme bloodshed. To put it lightly, Irag does not need any more of that!
“…due to the negative effects caused by some electronic games on the health, culture, and security of Iraqi society, including societal and moral threats to children and youth…”
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), is made by South Korean firm Bluehole Inc. In this game up to 100 players are parachuted onto an island where they have to fend for themselves by finding weapons, ammo, shelter, and food, all while fighting the other players. Epic Game’s Fortnite has a similar theme. Both games are extremely popular with a global membership.
Furthermore, the Indian state Gujarat’s government is also considering banning some of the more violent online games. Other states and countries could be following soon.
Some people have said that this will only drive those games underground where players will have to sneak in a back door and pay extra money to play.
The official government advertising watchdog in the United Kingdom, the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority is reporting that quite a few online gambling ads are being shown to children on the web. Of course, no one can really control where kids will browse on the internet, but there are certain rules that restrict where gambling ads can be placed.
The Advertising Standards Authority set up a wide area type of sting by creating many dummy children profiles which then simulated the known browsing habits of children online. For over two weeks, the advertisements displayed were monitored and the Advertising Standards Authority found 43 gambling operators that were displaying ads on sites that children can easily access.
Some of those sites include:
- 20 YouTube channels
- 20 various children sites
However, only five gambling operators were found to actually violate the code which bans all online gambling ads targeting individuals under the age of 18:
- Vikings Video Slot,
- and PlayOjo.
One of the gambling operators, Vikings Video Slot, turns out to be the most common violater accounting for almost half of the advertising. The response from Viking was “The advert did not lead to under-18 gambling.” But the point remains that the children saw the ads and therefore ‘the desire’ to gamble was triggered.
What was once a little known online activity for a few enthusiasts of multiplayer online games is now a multi-million dollar industry which is predicted by experts in-the-know to grow a whopping 25% this year reaching over $178 million USD. This revenue boom is expected to continue at least into 2020 where it could surpass 200 million USD.
Those that stand to benefit from this growth include:
- game developers,
- live venues,
- streaming platforms,
- TV networks,
The revenue from eSports mainly comes from:
- media rights deals,
- ticket sales,
Much of the eSports growth is due to the increasing audiences which is expected to grow 18% this year to about 30 million. According to some, the viewership will reach 50 million by year 2023. And it’s getting easier and easier to join the global audience as the livestreaming of the multiplayer games can be seen on sites like Twitch and YouTube. Plus, there are live venues that show the games on a large screen such as Madison Square Garden in NYC and Key Arena in Seattle.
In case you’re wondering, this trend is not just in the U.S., it’s very much alive in Europe and Asia, especially in S. Korea and China. All this is quite remarkable considering that only a few years ago, advertisers wouldn’t even consider reaching out to kids playing online games against each other.
Over the years, online games have become more and more a personal experience. Another way to express oneself with armor, choice of weapons, and choice of many male or female avatars. In a nutshell, you can control your appearance in the game and that makes the whole game more fun. Now, a computer software company called Modulate, co-founded by Mike Pappas and Carter Huffman is introducing voice skins, which will basically change the way you sound in the game.
Modulate uses neural networks and machine learning in order to allow a user to customize their voice. You could choose a voice sounding like the opposite gender, or maybe your favorite celebrity. So, if the skin you happen to be wearing is of something menacing or makes your avatar look intimidating you might change your voice skin to Darth Vader.
On the other hand, for those players that are somewhat self-conscious about the sound of their natural voice, Modulate’s voice skin could let them have a better game experience.
Of course, all of this is still in Modulate’s pilot program where they are testing with certain chat platforms and new games. Other features they want to add would be such things as changing your accent. This feature could give a British accent to an American player or a Texas drawl to a British player.
World of Tanks is a PvP (player versus player) and MMO (massively multiplayer online game) developed by Wargaming. The title gives away the game play, but the historical accuracy in the game is amazing. It’s all about the armoured combat vehicles of WW2 and you will see tanks from various countries, such as:
- and the Soviet Union
You will not only see them, you will test them yourself by driving them and operating their heavy guns in the game’s combat sessions. Although World of Tanks is PvP, you will belong to a squad of tanks or other armoured combat vehicles and you will need to work as a team in other to have any advantage in the vicious tank battles.
As of December 2013, the game has 75 million registered players worldwide and a 1.1 million peak concurrent players!
World of Tanks is so much fun that it’s been spun off to several variations including:
- the Xbox 360 named: World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition,
- there is also a PlayStation 4 version,
- Mobile users have World of Tanks Blitz,
- a board game titled World of Tanks Rush,
- a collectable card game titled World of Tanks: Generals.