‘Big Fish Casino’ Ruled by Court to be Gambling – Could This Impact Mobile Gaming Industry?

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A court decision over Big Fish Casino [Free] might have a major impact on the mobile casino genre. An appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling dismissing a case saying that Big Fish Casino constitutes illegal gambling under Washington state law. Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. said in the ruling:

In this appeal, we consider whether the virtual game platform “Big Fish Casino” constitutes illegal gambling under Washington law. Defendant-Appellee Churchill Downs, the game’s owner and operator, has made millions of dollars off of Big Fish Casino. However, despite collecting millions in revenue, Churchill Downs, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, purports to be shocked—shocked!—to find that Big Fish Casino could constitute illegal gambling. We are not. We therefore reverse the district court and hold that because Big Fish Casino’s virtual chips are a “thing of value,” Big Fish Casino constitutes illegal gambling under Washington law.

Now, this isn’t the end of casino games as we know them…yet. This appeals court ruling just makes it so that the case can go to trial, unless Big Fish’s lawyers decide to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. This case is also a potential class action lawsuit, and if you’ve ever seen the results of class action lawsuits, they usually result in some nominal compensation for users, perhaps a few changes made to how a company operates, but rarely bring forth massive changes. Also, this case originally started in 2015, so it’s likely that redress will not come until the far-off future if at all.

However, this should scare the developers of mobile casino games a bit. Several titles are in the top grossing charts, including Slotomania Slots [Free]. These games are big business, and if legal issues make them untenable, even just in certain jurisdictions, then it might have an impact on many companies and the mobile gaming market as a whole.

While the appeal of mobile casino games migth seem bewildering, they provide the thrill of, well, gambling, while letting people do it from their phone. The catch is that t’s quite likely that most people aren’t paying, since the games do offer ways to play for free. Of course, while there are prizes to redeem, there’s no easy way to turn tokens into cash. But, it’s still going for many of the elements that constitute gambling, an activity that requires regulation because of the way that it can trigger addiction in people. Legally, this case is complicated, and so are the ethics! Will Big Fish Casino survive this legal challenge? Should it? The coming years might lead to interesting circumstances.

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April Fools: get ready for the worst jokes in the tech industry

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Every year, several companies–most notoriously Google–float various unfunny, excessively long dad jokes on April Fools Day. But rather than waste your time detailing these latest flat attempts at humor in tech, why not take a moment on April 1 to take a look at the really foolish stuff the tech media serves up virtually every day?
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Industry First Mixed Reality Marketing Summit Coming in September

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Mixed Reality Ventures (MRV), an international holding company for early stage mixed reality platforms, is launching the marketing and advertising industry’s first ever Mixed Reality Marketing Summit.

Created by the founders of the EXMA and Hispanicize events, Fernando Anzures and Manny Ruiz, respectively. The groundbreaking summit will take place in New York City’s PlayStation Theater on Thursday, September 6.

From the official release emailed to MMW:

The summit’s first round of speakers includes a world-class line-up of leaders impacting how brands are approaching mixed, augmented and virtual reality, including: Brett Leonard, award-winning filmmaker and director of “Lawnmower Man”; Joanna Popper, Global Head of Location Based Entertainment, HP; Rori Duboff, Managing Director Content Innovation – Extended Reality, Accenture; Dorothy Dowling, CMO, Best Western Hotels and an early adopter of AR marketing strategies; Gabriele Corcos, celebrity chef and immersive entrepreneur; Chris Bobotis, Director of Immersive, Adobe; Amber Osborne (Forbes #2 Social CMO), CMO, Doghead Simulations; and Tanya Laird, Founder and CEO, Digital Jam. The Mixed Reality Marketing Summit will be emceed by Stewart Rogers, Director of Marketing Technology at VentureBeat.

“In the age of mixed reality and spatial computing, companies like Magic Leap, are unveiling technologies that will quickly become mainstream and will upend the marketing industry as we know it,” said marketing futurist Cathy Hackl, partner at Mixed Reality Ventures and co-author of “Marketing New Realities: An Introduction to Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Marketing, Branding, & Communications”. “Our summit will help brands get ahead of the curve with practical, impactful and actionable ways to master marketing’s new reality today.”

Registration information is available here mixedrealitymarketingsummit.com.

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Tim Cook: Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica consumer data debacle forces tech industry beyond self-regulation

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Speaking on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook for its mishandling and commercialization of consumer data, and again concedes that the time may be past for self-regulation of how companies handle personal information.
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Mining industry must strengthen IoT security, warns report

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Inmarsat digs into prospect of Internet of Mining Things

Inmarsat report finds that mining companies are struggling to secure IoT deployments.

Almost all mining companies are worried that their cybersecurity needs urgent improvement as the industry looks to implement IoT projects, according to a new report.

As part of satellite communications firm Inmarsat’s The Future of IoT in Enterprise report, market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 large mining companies across the world.

The survey found that 94 percent of these operations admitted that their approach to cybersecurity could be significantly improved, while 67 percent said that their data security measures would need a “complete overhaul” to be fit for IoT deployments.

A lack of relevant skills has emerged as a key area of concern, with 64 percent of respondents saying that they needed additional cybersecurity skills in order to safely deploy IoT technologies.

However, despite recognising the increased security risks associated with the IoT, just 44 percent are investing in new security technologies. Only 17 per cent reported that they are taking steps to plug the security skills gap by hiring new staff.

But why are these issues of critical importance to the mining sector?

Increased cybersecurity risks

Joe Carr, director of Mining at Inmarsat Enterprise, said that mining companies stand to make considerable gains by exploiting digital technologies and applications, such as the IoT, but as the industry becomes more digital-oriented, the risks for these businesses increase.

“A more connected mine is a more vulnerable one, and as the IoT connects ever more parts of a mining company’s operations to the internet, it opens up new avenues for attack, whether that’s from environmentalist groups seeking to disrupt operations, or from state-sponsored actors conducting cyber espionage,” he said.

Carr added that the sector’s increased dependency on data for its operations and profitability means that the risks of not having adequate security in place grow exponentially.

“Whereas a decade ago a data breach or intrusion would have been an inconvenience, today a mine might grind to a complete halt, so it is worrying that so many mining companies are struggling in this area,” he said.

He added that for businesses to thrive in this climate, IoT and digital security needs to be at the top of the agenda, and it is essential for boards to increase their understanding of the risks.

“This involves ensuring that the fundamental network infrastructure underpinning device connectivity aligns with the highest security and reliability standards, and that the endpoints are configured correctly,” he added.

This echoes a similar 2017 report by EY, which found that 55 percent of mining operators had experienced a significant cybersecurity incident.

That report also found that 97 percent of organisations admitted that their current cybersecurity function did not fully meet their organisation’s needs. Despite all this, only 53 percent of respondents had increased investment in cybersecurity.

Internet of Business says

A raft of recent reports have identified IoT security as a blind spot for many organisations. And as IoT systems are layered on top of legacy networks and critical systems, this introduces a much broader attack surface, where responsibility for security becomes less and less clear.

This is why organisations need to take responsibility themselves, stress test systems, and consider in advance the possible impacts of a cyber attack.

However, several Internet of Business reports reveal that many organisations simply aren’t taking responsibility, and are doing little to secure the IoT, despite strong awareness of the risks.

To plug this gap ourselves, we have recently published a number of reports that suggest some solutions to this fast-growing problem:-

Read more: IoT Security: How to fight attacks on health, energy, and transport

Read more: Gartner: IoT security spend hitting $ 1.5 billion – but strategy poor

Read more: Reports reveal critical need for IoT cybersecurity upgrade

5G networks will also demand an entirely new approach to security, warned a panel of experts in another recent report:

Read more: How to secure 5G to prevent IoT disasters: expert panel

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China trade war: Mega-problem for IT industry?

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Chris Middleton explores the history of the growing trade dispute between the US and China, and the reasons why it is making many in the technology sector nervous.

Internet of Business says

OPINION When US President Donald Trump personally blocked Broadcom Limited’s $ 142 billion bid for US chip company Qualcomm, we suggested that the unprecedented move could signal a dramatic policy shift on Asia. 

Our headline ‘Tech trade war! Trump blocks Qualcomm / Broadcom deal’ made no bones about our fears over the potential impact on the technology sector.

As we reported, the US President said in his executive order that there was “credible evidence” to believe that Broadcom might “take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States”.

In the event, no evidence for the Singapore-headquartered company having hostile intentions towards the US was put forward by the White House. The President intervened to block the deal before national security investigations – initiated the previous week in the US – had been completed.

In short, the move suggested an underlying political purpose – in the absence of hard evidence, at least.

US tech exposure

But one critical piece of information was omitted from the announcement: according to this breakdown of technology companies’ exposure to the Chinese market, 63 percent of Qualcomm’s revenues come from China, along with 52 percent of Broadcom’s.

Clearly, any looming trade war between the US and China and its allies would negatively impact those companies, along with any other US technology providers doing business in the region: a lengthy and growing list, not just in hardware, but also in software and communications.

Not only is China now a superpower, it is also automating faster than any nation on Earth. South Korea is the most automated country in terms of its robot density, followed by countries in Western Europe (except the UK), but China will be in the top 10 before the decade is out.

Read more: South Korea most automated nation on earth, says report. The UK? Going nowhere

A wide variety of US-listed technology companies are deeply exposed to China, including Intel, NVIDIA, Texas Instruments, and Western Digital – hardware being the big exposure point. One company, US aerospace semiconductor Skyworks Solutions Inc, derives 80 percent of its revenues from China, according to CBS.

Is it a trade war?

Events this week suggest that our predictions of an escalation of hostilities appear to be coming true: a trade war may now be looming between the US and China, and the many nations and territories that have strong connections with Beijing.

At least, the war of words is hotting up, leading one news organisation to describe the situation as “policy as theatre”. The Wall Street Journal weighed in by suggesting that Trump is not to blame for tensions, because China started the trade war “long before he became President”.

“Even free traders and internationalists agree China’s predatory trade practices – which include forcing US business to transfer valuable technology to Chinese firms and restricting access to Chinese markets – are undermining both its partners and the trading system,” said the WSJ.

The US President has called for the imposition of $ 50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and services. Twenty-five percent tariffs will be added to a basket of over 1,300 types, mainly in areas such as IT, communications, machinery, and aerospace, he said.

Full details have yet to be disclosed, leading some to suggest that the move is as much a show of strength as it is a detailed policy. However, that basket of items and services can be seen as the areas in which the US feels most vulnerable.

The President cited China’s aggressive attitude to IP. And on this point, he is correct. China has long been known to replicate or copy Western brands, from sporting goods, clothing, and toys, to cars, phones, computers, and even robots.

However, Section 301 of the 1974 US Trade Act obliges companies trading in China to transfer technology and IP to their local business partners, so it is not a simple matter of theft, but also of agreed trading conditions between the nations.

Today, the US backed up its tariff announcement with a complaint to the World Trade Organisation about China’s IP policy – despite having sidelined the WTO in its unilateral trade move.

“China appears to be breaking WTO rules by denying foreign patent holders, including US companies, basic patent rights to stop a Chinese entity from using the technology after a licensing contract ends,” the US statement said.

“China also appears to be breaking WTO rules by imposing mandatory adverse contract terms that discriminate against, and are less favourable for, imported foreign technology.”

China has responded in kind with threats of $ 3 billion in tariffs on US goods, including raw materials, food, and other items (full details of which have also yet to be announced). Beijing has also complained to the WTO about the US’ unilateral move.

A Chinese welcome

But something else happened this month, which has been less well reported: China announced to the world that it is opening up its markets to an unprecedented degree.

Speaking at a China General Chamber of Commerce USA event, New York-based Consul General Zhang Qiyue said that barriers will be removed or eased for foreign investors in the country’s financial sector, and that market entry standards will be levelled for Chinese and overseas banks.

“Many more measures will be introduced this year, and some of the measures will be beyond the expectations of foreign companies and investors,” he said.

This could be what is really ringing alarm bells in Washington – despite the opportunity that greater openness would appear to offer for trade. The subtext is that China is opening its doors to the world, even as the US appears to be closing its.

Put another way, it may be over 40 years since the US Trade Act was signed, but since then China has become an economic and technology superpower, with India and other Asian countries hot on its heels.

Three of the top four biggest companies in the world by revenue are now Chinese: State Grid ($ 315 billion), oil and gas giant Sinopec ($ 267.5 billion), and China Natural Petroleum ($ 262.6 billion). Only US retail behemoth Walmart is larger, with revenues of $ 485 billion. The US is feeling the heat of the Asian dragon.

Taking stock – and US debt

But when it comes to a different measure, the most valuable companies by market capitalisation (the values of shares on the stock market), US companies easily hold the world stage.

The top three most valuable companies in the world are all US tech providers, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company). Jointly, they are worth over $ 2.4 trillion – a triple-A rating by any standards. Microsoft and Facebook are also in the top 10, along with three financial services providers. But in revenue terms, only Apple makes it into the top 10 global giants out of all the technology companies, at number nine.

Read more: Amazon now world’s second most valuable company after Apple

And this is where a lurking problem lies in any trade war with China. Massive and valuable though the US economy is – it remains the world’s biggest, with a GDP estimated at $ 18.56 trillion – the mirror that it holds up to itself is the stock market. And tech stocks are tumbling on Wall Street today over fears at the China news.

However, the real danger of this new, protectionist US policy, is that the American technology sector is itself highly reliant on Asian manufacturing and, in some cases, also component IP.

For example, Republic of China (Taiwan) based Foxconn is the world’s largest contract manufacturer, and its US client base includes the world’s top four companies by market cap – Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft – along with Cisco, Dell, Intel, Motorola Mobility, and Vizio, among others.

These companies rely on offshore manufacturing and components to bring some of the world’s most popular technology to the public at healthy margins.

The US high-tech sector is also highly reliant on trading, research, and technology partnerships throughout the world, notably with China and India. In the case of China, access to Western companies has recently been increasing on a ‘like for like’ basis, as China’s new openness takes hold.

And we’ve seen the US response to that.

But the US also needs to be careful for another reason: it’s enormous debt, a chunk of which is owned by China.

At the start of 2018, total US debt is estimated to be in the region of $ 20 trillion – greater than its 2017 GDP. Roughly 5.5 percent of that debt is owned by China: $ 1.189 trillion, as of October 2017. Owning so much US debt keeps the yuan linked to the dollar, which keeps down the cost of Chinese exports.

The dollar has long been thought of as the most stable currency. However, an escalating trade war that drags in Europe and Asia could rattle that stability.

That said, lots of countries own US debt and will continue to buy it, and China relies on the US market to buy its goods. So it is hard to see who would win from a trade war that is anything more than political rhetoric.

Read more: Vodafone teams up with China Mobile to drive global IoT expansion

In light of all this, any real-world extension of Trump’s trade war into the US technology sector could set alarm bells ringing throughout the world, and in the boardrooms of the many American companies that rely on trade and knowledge exchange with Asia. CM

And finally…

…Brexit. By far the biggest loser in all of this will be Brexit Britain. Leaving the EU – and, for some reason, also the Customs Union – will itself make imports and exports more expensive, which will push up the price of technology in the UK. The government’s own impact assessments have confirmed this.

Meanwhile, some US companies, such as Apple, have already raised prices in the UK, as a direct result of Brexit. Leaving the EU makes it more expensive for US companies to address the UK market, because it is much easier and cheaper for companies to deal with a bloc of nations than with dozens of separate ones. That too will push up technology prices, not just for hardware, but also for services and software.

Finally, any trade war with China could significantly increase the cost of US hardware and components still further, because of America’s reliance on offshore outsourcing. And, of course, push up the prices of previously low-cost Chinese technology too.

US policy on trade tariffs for the EU and the UK remains unclear, but there are lurking risks there.

In each of these scenarios, the UK will be worst hit and least able to defend itself as it leaves the EU. All of this could leave Britain facing some of the highest technology prices in the world.

But newly global Britain could always forge a new alliance, of course. With China.

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Spotify, Apple Music responsible for both rebound of music industry and dying physical media sales

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Recorded music revenue jumped by double digits last year, thanks to revenue growth from Apple, Spotify and other streaming services, according to a new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the music industry’s lobbying group
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Trump’s Chinese tariffs could have a big impact on the tech industry

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Trump has shouted about weaponizing trade since the campaign trail, but this year he's put it to action, committing to solar tariffs back in January that endangered US jobs. This afternoon, Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum to enact tariffs…
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The video game industry is finally asking where the women are

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Ubisoft is participating in the Women in Gaming Rally at GDC this week. It's one of the first things the 20 or so journalists pooled between the open bar and the canapes on the second floor of Hotel Zetta were told — mentioned right after the eveni…
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