Sunday night, I attended the soft launch of The Wall Gaming Lounge inside of the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. The Wall was created in conjunction with Caesars Entertainment eSports as part of an initiate to push eSports inside of the Caesars properties. They truly doubled down on the idea of a lounge and have created a space that caters to both casual and hardcore gamers. The Wall’s cyberpunk 80s lounge style includes nooks, couches, tabletops, a wall of built-in seats, oversized chairs, and more.
Not Another Esports Arena: Big Plans for the Future
With The Wall opening on the heels of the Esports Arena (ESA) inside of the Luxor Hotel & Casino, manager, Joe Huballa, was quick to point out that they are looking for a different market than the ESA. Now, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for pro-gamers or eSports events. In fact, one of the really amazing features at The Wall is the ability for pro-streamers and pro-gamers to set up streams inside of the lounge—streaming out to the internet as normal, but also to televisions inside of the venue and on the casino floor.
Joe has been hard at work with the newly created H1Z1 League and teams, working with pro-players to help test out the equipment and streams…even running five different simultaneous streams at one time. In fact, while Joe was showing me around The Wall, “Aw naW” from SET TO DESTROY had an issue that Joe resolved in a matter of minutes. This shows how much Joe and the Rio are working to get things ready during this soft launch. They are seizing the opportunity to work with the H1Z1 players in residence at the Rio and making sure the kinks are worked out before the grand opening.
This was only “Phase 1,” with two more phases to roll out. This means even more areas for streamers and pro-teams to set up shop, more televisions, more space, more consoles, etc. There are lots of possibilities—for example, streamers might have the opportunity to either test out their stream or setup some sort of residence.
Which Gaming Platforms will be Available at The Wall?
With all this attention being paid to PC players, you might feel like the console gamers are being left out. That is not the case at all. According to Joe, consoles will be installed shortly with a variety of games. In addition to this, he envisions console tournaments as well. Actually, tonight was a dry run of a Smash 4 tournament. You might think this is pretty straightforward, but there were a few things they had to figure out in regard to sign-ups, payouts, etc.
There were a few casino guests who stopped by to check out the Smash 4 tournament as they were walking through the casino. My favorite was an elderly couple who were curious as to what was going on and what game was being played. They asked questions and watched for a bit; they left smiling. It was great to see.
Joe Huballa and his Vision for The Wall Gaming Lounge
Joe told me that, “showing off the potential of the venue, getting out the kinks, and working with both pro-streamers/gamers and locals tournament organizers (TOs) to get things smoothed over before the grand opening“ is what the soft launch is all about.
And that’s just what he is doing. I will say that I was doubly impressed with Joe’s commitment to the local competitive scene and to the local gamers. He used to run events and tournaments and is well known in the Smash community. He spoke about how he used to take the profits from these tournaments and help local streamers and gamers build computers. He also helped pay for other things to keep them going. With this type of background, and now with this opportunity at The Wall, Joe is set to continue helping the eSport community.
Why is The Rio Devoting so Much Space for Hardcore Gamers?
With the focus on hardcore gamers and streamers, Joe was quick to point out that the casual casino guest or local would not feel alienated in this space. The Wall is like a sports bar. There will be food, great drinks, televised eSports competitions from across the world, all of which will create an atmosphere that cannot be missed.
If you’re familiar with the Rio and want to know just how big the venue is and how much faith the Rio is putting into eSports, the Phase 1 space is currently occupying what used to be Hamadas. It will expand to include McFaddens and a bit more space. That’s quite a sizable chunk of real estate on the casino floor. Phase 1 looks like it’s going to be a success, and I’m really excited to see how casual and pro-gamers use the space when Phase 2 and Phase 3 roll out.
What Makes The Wall Different from Every Other Esports Venue Popping Up in Vegas?
There are a few things that set The Wall apart from other video game/eSports venues in Las Vegas. One is “The Wall.” This is a row of taps that will include your standard fare of beers, specialty and seasonal beers, coffee, espresso, Red Bull, Gatorade, iced tea, sodas, and more. When you register at The Wall, you get a card. This card allows you to add money; then, you can use it on the wall of taps. It will eventually allow you to order food as well. Think of it like Apple Pay or one of those bracelets at Disney World. No cash exchange, only quick and easy payments.
The second thing is the parking. Parking is free at the Rio. This might not seem like a big deal but, trust me, it is. If you’re going to the ESA a few nights a week to compete or watch, parking can quickly add up to well over a hundred dollars a month in parking fees alone. Free parking at the Rio will be a big incentive. Here’s a tip—park at the Masquerade Parking Structure and you will be at The Wall in less than two minutes.
The third thing is that younger players, people under the age of 21, aren’t kicked out at 9pm. This is a big deal because most of the eSports scene is actually under the age of 21. There are a lot of high school kids and young college kids, and this has been a major hurdle for other venues on The Strip as it limits tournament times and days.
How Much will a Trip to The Wall Cost Me?
The lounge costs are pretty standard. They have hourly, half-day, and all-day options to purchase. They have discounts for locals, military, seniors, and more. After speaking with Joe, it feels like locals are going to get a pretty sweet deal when everything is finalized.
I’ll be covering The Wall in all Phases, and, hopefully working to cover future events.
You can listen to Beyond Beta Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, or Spotify, and check out my progress in eSports at www.BeyondBetaPodcast.com. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveJShockey, or follow the podcast on Twitter @BeyondBetaPod.
‘Overlooked’ Part of Senate Infrastructure Bill Renews Worries From Crypto Lobby
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed in the Senate in early August and is expected to be approved by the House, is the gift that keeps on giving.
At first, it was about roads, bridges, and clean water. Then a pay-for provision promised to give American crypto users new tax reporting requirements. And now there’s a new twist.
A report published today by the Proof of Stake Alliance (POSA), an advocacy group that counts Coinbase Custody and as members, details an “overlooked” amendment to the tax code within the 2,700-page bill that will make it a felony to incorrectly report receiving cryptocurrencies, , or other digital assets.
Writing in his role as an advisor to the POSA, law professor Abraham Sutherland details how the infrastructure bill amends Section 6050I of the tax code. The amended section 6045 that caused so much consternation when it made it through the Senate changed the definition of “broker” to cover those handling cryptocurrencies.
Industry lobbyists and cryptocurrency advocates such as the think tank Coin Center argued that the bill as written would force miners and validators on other networks to file 1099 forms for the people whose transactions they were processing—even though they lacked the personal information needed to do so.
Section 6050I, on the other hand, deals with the tax reporting requirements of those who ultimately receive the cryptocurrencies. While Americans must already report their crypto gains to the IRS just as they would with other investments, Sutherland says the amended provision goes much further: They must tell the government who sent it, including reporting social security numbers, when the value of the digital assets is more than $10,000. Not doing so within 15 days constitutes a felony.
This raises at least two issues. First, as Sutherland notes, it’s just as unwieldy as the section 6045 amendment: “This provision demands the impossible because the digital assets might not be ‘received’ from a person whose personally identifiable information can be verified and reported—including cases where the digital assets are not ‘received’ from a person or entity with a tax ID number, period.”
Second, as Sutherland alludes to and as Coin Center Research Director Peter Van Valkenburgh hammered home in a blog post, it might just be unconstitutional. The tax code currently mandates that people report such information to the IRS when they receive $10,000 in cash. That passes Constitutional muster because the bank acts as a third party; otherwise, authorities would need a warrant under the Fourth Amendment. But in cryptocurrency, a peer-to-peer transaction doesn’t have a third party.
Writes Van Valkenburgh: “One person to a two person transaction is obligated to collect a load of sensitive information from her counterparty and hand that to government officials without any warrant or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.”
Though he writes that Coin Center usually doesn’t “object to equal treatment of cash and cryptocurrencies,” in this case the “provision is a draconian surveillance rule that should have been ruled unconstitutional long ago. Extending it to cryptocurrency transactions would further erode the privacy of law-abiding Americans.”
Sutherland also calls into question the process by which the amended IRS code will become law—via a bill on completely unrelated topics. “A statute creating felony crimes for users of digital assets should be debated openly, not quietly inserted into a spending bill,” he wrote.
Avalanche (AVAX) bumps to near $70 after reveal of $230 million fundraise
High-speed blockchain Avalanche jumped to highs of $68.30 today after several influential crypto investors revealed the close of a private funding round involving $230 million worth of AVAX tokens in June, CryptoSlate learned in a release.
The Avalanche Foundation, a non-profit that oversees the development of the Avalanche blockchain, disclosed participants in the multimillion-dollar funding round were led by PolyChain Capital and Three Arrows Capital, and included R/Crypto Fund, Dragonfly, CMS Holdings, Collab+Currency, and Lvna Capital.
What a day! Just one of the many major initiatives the @AvaLabsOfficial team has been working on.
— Jay Kurahashi-Sofue 🔺 (@jayks17) September 16, 2021
What happens to Avalanche now?
Proceeds from the private sale will be used to support the burgeoning Avalanche ecosystem—one that has been positioned as a top contender against Ethereum for its high speed and low fees.
Part of the funds will be funneled to support DeFi (decentralized finance) projects on Avalanche as well as enterprise applications through grants, token purchases, and other forms of investments.
Avalanche’s smart contract is able to execute Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) contracts, making it possible for developers to ‘reuse’ their codebase if they have a working/testnet product on the Ethereum blockchain.
Converting assets on-chain using a ‘bridge’—a way for two separate blockchain to communicate with and transfer value between each other—are also simple as applications querying the Ethereum network can be adapted to support Avalanche by changing API endpoints and adding support for a new network.
Meanwhile, the news caused a surge in AVAX prices last night. The token jumped 30% to over $68.30 to set a new all-time high, reaching a $14 billion marketcap and becoming the 12th-most-valuable cryptocurrency by that metric.
At press time, AVAX continues to trade above its 34-period exponential moving average, a metric used by traders that determines asset trends using historic prices. It has been been in a gradual uptrend since breaking the $15 mark in late-July, and has returned several multiples to investors in the past three months alone.
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Can NFTs impact the economic livelihood of artists in developing nations?
- Aversano deployed the first NFT portrait photography.
- The total sales volume of NFTs in the art segment rose from $64 million to $774 million.
- NFTs ensure an artist is paid royalty whenever their art is used.
Aversano, an artist known for deploying the first-ever NFT portrait photography, says he sold more than 100 NFT portraits between February and June. He said the sales earned approximately $130,000 within five months. The Twin collection in which he sold the 100 portraits are photographs of twins, which he says are in memory of his fraternal twin.
What are NFTs?
NFTs are non-fungible tokens which are real-life assets that are sold on digital platforms. The viability of NFTs depends on the uniqueness and the utility of possession. This means that tokens can only be relevant to an owner if he can prove ownership of the token. The tokens can range from unique pieces of art from artists to current assets like cars. The digital platform gives an easy and availed proof of ownership.
Non-fugitive assets are made more desirable by the fact that they are unique and one of a kind. This makes them very valuable.
According to Statista, the total sales volume of NFTs in the art segment rose from $64 million to $774 million within a record period of 30-days (August 15 – September 15, 2021). The chart below shows the fluctuation of NFT sales per 30-days period between April and August.
How can NFTs make artists’ lives better?
As the digital world takes significant steps ahead, more investors try to get a niche to explore the same fruits. When Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet at $2.9m, it started a buzz on and around NFTs. Not only for the amount of money fetched but the ‘absurdity’ of buying a tweet when there are millions of them already. However, there is much more to it. It brought about the concept of owning a one-of-a-kind piece of art which for sure is an advantage to artists.
First, NFTs guarantee immutability to the artist. There is uniqueness where the artist has complete copyrights on his art. This is enabled by the ID or metadata issued to an artist to prove possession of the art. It is offered to give essential data about the piece of art.
Second, there are no intermediaries during the trading of art on cryptocurrency platforms. Once there is an interested party, they are connected to the individual artist who lays out the asset’s guidelines to change possession. This is advantageous to the artist since transactions are done on his terms. It also keeps in place his profile and reputation as an artist. The artist also cuts the marketing cost and the issue of art brokers.
Next, there is exposure for the artist. When trading NFTs, artists are at ease to do collaborations with other artists. This is a guarantee as the platform is a haven where artists can interact and flourish while teaming up with even more significant expertise in different fields. Apart from collaborations, there is a world market availed. Geographical borders or any particular divisions do not limit the crypto platforms. Once an artist avails art on a digital platform, the piece is available for everybody.
One other factor pulling artists to NFTs is smart contracts. This is a feature that keeps a contract in code form. It works best for decentralized platforms. Smart contracts are programmed to suit an investor’s interest in trade.
For example, smart contracts can be used by artists dealing with NFTs to store data or be used to get royalties each time the piece of art changes possession. This means that the artist keeps reaping from the art long after the sale. A smart contract can be programmed to work without involving a party to set it up time and again.
On the other hand, since the buzz around NFTs began, more people are trying to get into the trade in an attempt of minting. This is leading to flooding in the market and the uniqueness of NFTs diluting. However, this is not a guarantee for the near future failure of NFTs. Artists can reap much from the NFTs.
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