Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has brought to an end speculation about his future by signing a contract extension with the La Liga leaders.
The 30-year-old’s contract previous contract ran until the summer of 2018. That meant he would have been a free agent next summer while being able to talk to foreign clubs in January.
The news will not come as a major surprise, as speculation has been rife in the Catalan and Spanish press that a deal had already been agreed.
However, until the official announcement of the new deal, everybody connected with the club were nervous about the possibility of the club legend leaving the Nou Camp.
Messi’s new deal will run until 2021 and contains a release clause of £626million. Barcelona’s official club Twitter confirmed the news.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 25, 2017
Messi has been a mainstay of the Barcelona team for more than a decade. The diminutive forward has won every honour available in club football with Barcelona. Not only has he won 30 trophies with the Catalan giants, the forward has also won the Ballon d’Or on five occasions, as well as winning the European Golden Shoe on four occasions. Messi has also broken record after record for the Catalan giants and is Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The news is a big boost for the Spanish league leaders, who travel to the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday night to face a tough test against second-place Valencia. The home side are enjoying a stellar campaign under highly-rated boss Marcelino. In fact, Los Ches are unbeaten in their 12 La Liga games this season. Valencia are just four points behind the Catalan visitors in the table. A home win would put pressure on Ernesto Valverde’s side at the top of the table.
However, Barcelona have failed to win just one of their 12 La Liga games this season. Messi has been in top form for the Catalan giants this season, topping the La Liga scoring charts with 12 goals.
Ironically, the man closest to Messi in the race for the Pichichi is Simone Zaza of Valencia. The Italian striker has scored nine times this season in the Spanish top-flight and will be looking to add to his tally against the visitors. Zaza’s Los Ches teammate Rodrigo is just two goals behind the former West Ham flop in the scoring stakes.
Valencia will certainly represent a challenge for the visitors. The home sides form at the Mestalla in La Liga of late has been formidable. Marcelino’s side have won five of their last six La Liga games on home soil while scoring three or more goals in their last four home outings.
Barcelona have also been high-scoring in La Liga of late, scoring at least two goals in 18 of their last 19 outings. That scoring record could be put to the test at the Mestalla though, as Marcelino’s side have kept clean sheets in four of their last five outings in the Spanish top-flight.
The Catalan giants will be hoping that it will be a double celebration this weekend. However, the home side will have other ideas, as they look to gain ground on the formidable league leaders.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) of Australia has also spoken about the debate concerning the gambling nature of loot boxes in video games which has recently made headlines and is in agreement that loot boxes constitute gambling.
Loot boxes made headlines this month after Star Wars: Battlefront II was released to the public on November 17.
Loot boxes are prize packs that contain randomized items that could boost the player’s performance or alter the cosmetic appearance of their character. Players could purchase these loot boxes for a price.
Ever since the launch, a number of gambling regulators in different parts of the world called the loot box system a form of gambling, since there is money and stakes involved in the game. The Belgian Gaming Commission, the Netherlands Gaming Authority and the US State of Hawaii were some of the first agencies to start investigations against these loot boxes and call out the developer, Electronic Arts (EA) for trivializing gambling and making it accessible to minors who are playing the Star Wars game.
State representative Chris Lee of Hawaii even went as far as calling Battlefront II, a themed online casino designed to prey on younger and vulnerable kids, and encourage them to spend money on the hopes that it would improve their gameplay. The Victorian gambling regulator has also investigated loot boxes and based on their findings confirm that loot boxes fall very much into the gambling category as defined by Victorian legislation.
Similar findings and investigation efforts are being conducted by the Victorian gambling regulator in Australia as well.
Jarrod Wolfe, a Strategic Analyst for the Compliance Division at VCGLR stated that the normalization of gambling mechanics in such venues where minors are largely involved is legally questionable. VCGLR should technically be taking action against these loot boxes because they can be classified as gambling but the Victorian regulator is limited by their jurisdiction.
In a statement, Wolfe said
Unfortunately where the complexity arises is in jurisdiction and our powers to investigate. Legislation has not moved as quick as the technology; at both State and Federal level we are not necessarily equipped to determine the legality of these practices in lieu of the fact the entities responsible are overseas.
VCGLR’s said that their hands are tied for now but one of the best things they can do at the moment is to work with the Australian Classification Board. Wolfe said that any game that uses the same predatory loot box mechanics could be automatically rated R in the market. An R rating in Australia means Restricted Exhibition and establishes that the product is suitable only for individuals who are 18 and above.
Analysts and experts from the gambling industry in the United States expect online gambling to flourish in the country once New Jersey wins its sports betting case in the Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on December 4 from New Jersey and the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association regarding their appeal to rule the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) unconstitutional.
David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) is one of the many people who believe that a favorable ruling will impact the online gambling industry in the US. He said that if New Jersey wins the case, the those states that have a sports betting market will soon open their doors to the online gambling industry and welcome online poker operators.
David Schwartz, who is currently running the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Las Vegas-Nevada agreed with Rebuck’s. In a statement, Schwartz said,
It makes a lot of sense to offer sports betting over the internet. Once you have the systems for letting people bet on sports in place, it isn't a huge step to permit them to bet on casino games or poker as well
Schwartz also believes that merging sports betting and online gaming will attract a younger demographic: those in their 30s or even younger. Currently, only Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have legalized online gaming. Pennsylvania recently signed its expanded gaming bill and will join these three states sometime next year. New Jersey has so far reported revenues in excess of $250 million from online gambling this year while Delaware earned over $2 million in online gambling profits.
Generating a new stream of revenue is expected to be the biggest motivator for states to marry sports betting and online gaming. According to data from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, up to $60 billion in sports bets are illegally made by Americans each year over offshore sites and bookmakers. Eilers & Krejcik estimates that 32 states will offer sports wagering just within five years of an official ruling, which can immediately create a legal market of more than $6 billion.
If all 50 states opened up to sports betting, up to $15.8 billion could be generated easily. Once the Supreme Courts starts proceedings in December, a ruling can be expected earliest in June 2018. The case will test whether the 1992 federal law that outlawed sports betting in all states except for Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware is unconstitutional. Those opposing the state of New Jersey in this case are the NCAA and professional sports leagues.
Everton interim boss David Unsworth has questioned the desire of the Toffees squad after they suffered an embarrassing 5-1 home defeat against Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday night.
The defeat was the Toffees biggest home defeat in European football and it leaves the Merseysiders with just one point from their five group games in the competition.
The defeat was just another disappointing day at the office for the Toffees this season.
Expected to be competing for the top-six spots this season, instead, they are just above the relegation zone after a poor run of form.
In an interview with BT Sport after last night’s game, Unsworth said
I’d like to think every single player is hurting the way I am at the moment and if they are not then they shouldn’t be here at this great club, The minimum requirement is 100 percent effort. Only those players will know themselves when they look themselves in the mirror at night
Unsworth has struggled to revive the Toffees fortunes in his six games in temporary charge, suffering four defeats and winning just once.
However, the former Everton defender may not be in charge for much longer. According to Sky presenter Jim White, a confidant of Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, the club are close to appointing a new boss.
White revealed the news via Twitter, while also talking about the issue on his radio show on TalkSPORT.
Farhad Moshiri, majority shareholder @Everton :"The first priority is to stabilise the Club and finalise the appointment of a manager – we are close."
— Jim White (@JimWhite) 24 November 2017
The rumour mill and speculation suggests that the Toffees have a shortlist of three bosses. One of those bosses is unlikely to be Watford’s Marco Silva after the Hertfordshire reportedly threatened the Merseysiders with legal action if they continued to pursue their boss.
Other names that have been in the frame are Unsworth himself, Sean Dyche and even RB Leipzig Director of Football Ralf Rangnick. The latter has been out of management since 2011 and a stint at Schalke in the Bundesliga.
Unsworth is likely to take charge of Sunday’s visit to Southampton, as the Toffees look for their first Premier League away win since last January. A number of first-team players look set to return to the squad for that clash. The likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Idrissa Gueye and Leighton Baines were all left out of the clash with Atalanta.
Young Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Spanish striker Sandro Ramirez will be competing for a place up front against the Saints in the absence of the suspended Oumar Niasse. Sandro has struggled to hit form on Merseyside since his summer arrival from Malaga. However, he did open his goalscoring account for the Toffees against Atalanta, so could be in line for another chance up front.
Sunday’s opponents Southampton have a terrible recent home record in the Premier League, winning just two of their last 12 home games in the top-flight. The Saints have also scored in just three of those 12 games on home soil. If the Toffees record a victory at St Mary’s, then they will move above the team from the south coast in the Premier League table.
Wednesday night was a mixed one for British teams in the Champions League, as there were highs and lows for teams involved.
One of the biggest stories of the night involving British clubs was Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat by Swiss side Basel. A late winner from Michael Lang ended the Red Devils hundred percent record in Europe’s elite competition.
Despite the defeat in Switzerland, Jose Mourinho’s team have all-but qualified for the knockout stages of the competition. The Red Devils only have to avoid defeat against CSKA Moscow in their final group game to qualify as group winners.
CSKA Moscow defeated Benfica 2-0 to set up a tense finish in Group A, as the Russian side are now level on points with Basel heading into the final group game.
Reigning English champions Chelsea had a rather more comfortable night, as Antonio Conte’s side sealed qualification for the knockout stages with a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan champions Qarabag.
Qarabag played for more than 70 minutes with ten after the 19th-minute dismissal of captain Rashad Sadygov for fouling Willian in the penalty area. Eden Hazard scored from the resulting spot kick, while Willian added a brace and Cesc Fabregas also got on the scoresheet. The win means that the Blues have not yet sealed top spot. However, realistically they only need a draw from their last group game against Atletico Madrid to win the group.
Elsewhere, Celtic endured a night to forget in Paris, as the Scottish champions were mauled 7-1 at PSG. The Hoops made the perfect start with French striker Moussa Dembele opening the scoring in the first minute.
However, that was as good as it got for Brendan Rodgers side, as the Parisians hammered home their superiority with goals. Neymar and Edinson Cavani scored a brace each, while Kylian Mbappe, Daniel Alves and Marco Verratti also got in on the goalscoring act.
In the process of registering the massive win, PSG broke the record for most goals scored in the group stages of the Champions League. The Parisians have scored 24 times in just five games, bettering the previous record of 21 held by German side Dortmund. The win meant that PSG have sealed qualification and all-but sealed top spot courtesy of their superior goal difference to second place Bayern Munich.
Celtic are in third spot, three points ahead of fourth place Anderlecht with a superior goal difference. If the Hoops stay in third then they will drop down into the knockout stages of the Europa League. The Scottish champions positioned in the group was strengthened by Bayern Munich winning 2-1 against Anderlecht.
Elsewhere in the Champions League, European giants, Juventus and Barcelona drew 0-0 at the Allianz Arena.
Sporting Lisbon recorded a 3-1 win over Olympiakos in Group. The victory could be a crucial one, as it means that the Portuguese side can still make the last-16 of the competition. The result means that the Catalan giants are in pole position to seal top spot in the group, as they are three points ahead of Juventus with a superior goal difference.
Atletico Madrid kept their hopes of making the knockout stages of the competition alive by beating Roma 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano. The win means that Los Rojiblancos are now just a point behind the second place Italians in the race for qualification.
Billionaire Carl Icahn who has made it a habit of taking bankrupt casinos and turning them around did not have a lot of success with the Trump Taj Mahal as his team was unable to sort out their differences with the casino workers union and as a result he decided to shutdown the Trump Taj Mahal in October 2016. Icahn has been at odds with a number of lawmakers in New Jersey who were not happy with his decision to shutdown the troubled casino.
Icahn is now in the process of demolishing a significant portion of the Trump Plaza which is situated at the end of the Atlantic City expressway and occupies top boardwalk real estate. Icahn and his team of lawyers applied for a special state sponsored fund that would help with the demolition costs and received initial approval from the state for $5.6 million.
The total cost of the demolition is expected to be around $13.2 million as plans for one of the two hotel towers along with a bridge will be demolished.
A re-development agency in New Jersey gave the initial approval as the demolition project will raze what many now call an eye sore to the heart of the city and will allow something better to be developed in the coming months. The money for this demolition project comes from funds collection from Atlantic City casinos over the years.
Casinos in Atlantic City pay an 8 percent tax but an additional 1.25 percent as part of a special investment tax. This 1.25 percent in taxes over the years has been used by the city for a number of development projects. New Jersey decided in 2016 to stop the 1.25 percent in gaming taxes from being used on development projects and instead directed Atlantic City to use the funds to reduce its massive debt which brought the city on the verge of bankruptcy.
However an exception to this new rule can be made when the development project is deemed beneficial to Atlantic City. That’s what Carl Icahn and his team of lawyers are looking to prove as once the Trump Plaza is demolished, the land will be very valuable to Atlantic City.
Don Guardian, the Mayor of Atlantic City was not happy with the fact that Icahn has got initial approval for $5.6 million. Guardian who leaves office in January 2018 said that Icahn was responsible for the closure of the Trump Plaza, the loss of jobs and the suffering that Atlantic City had to go through because of the closure and did not think it was right for him to gain more money from state funds.
Former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will commence talks with managerless Premier League outfit West Brom later this week, according to the Birmingham Mail. In fact, Pardew’s odds of becoming the new Baggies boss have shortened to just 4/11, with the ex-Crystal Palace boss now the favourite for the job
The Baggies parted company with experienced boss Tony Pulis on Monday after the club had recorded just two wins from their last 21 games in the English top-flight. The poor run of results has seen the Baggies drop to 17th place in the table, just one point above the dreaded drop zone.
Pulis had come in for heavy criticism from the fans and even his own players for his style of football and management style.
Pardew is a highly experienced Premier League boss. However, his last job in the English top-flight saw the 56-year-old sacked as Palace boss in December 2016.
The Eagles were in the same position in the table as West Brom when he left the club, as they had won just six of their previous 36 league games.
Pardew’s most successful spell in the Premier League was at Newcastle. He led the north east side to fifth-place in the table in 2012, narrowly missing out on the lucrative Champions League spots. The experienced boss is no stranger to controversy, though, as he has been involved in a number of incidents both on and off the field. However, Pardew still retains a decent managerial reputation, despite those aforementioned controversial incidents and his Palace sacking.
The Baggies had previously been linked with a number other of high profile figures in their hunt for a new boss.
One of those linked to the job and one-time favourite is Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill. He had done a sterling job guiding his team to Euro 2016, where they suffered defeat in the last-16 of the competition. The former Shamrock Rovers boss has held discussions to become the boss of the Scotland national team. However, the sad passing of his mother interrupted those talks.
There are also reports from Ireland that O’Neill is set to be offered a new six-year deal by the IFA to remain as Northern Ireland boss. The 48-year-old is reportedly ready to snub the offer though in favour of a new challenge elsewhere.
Another high-profile figure mooted as a possible replacement for Pulis is former England boss Sam Allardyce. The veteran boss has a reputation as a managerial firefighter, who saves clubs from relegation. Allardyce has never suffered relegation from the Premier League. Like Pulis, his style of play has come in for criticism, though. The ex-Crystal Palace boss recently turned down a short-term deal with another struggling Premier League club Everton.
He reportedly wanted a longer contract and would not be prepared to come out of retirement for such a short-term contract. Allardyce is still the second favourite for the job and could still be in the running.
The message boards and West Brom forums suggest that Alan Pardew would not be a popular appointment among the Baggies fans. However, it now seems likely that the 56-year-old will be the next West Brom boss.
Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather who is recognized by many to be the greatest boxer of this generation will make his debut into the gaming industry with the launch of a new social casino adventure mobile game titled WildPoker.
ONE Entertainment announced this week that Mayweather is starring in a new mobile game created jointly by social casino games developer Playtrex and mobile games publisher Hero Digital Entertainment. WildPoker is now available for download for iOS and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play.
This new social casino game is basically a Texas Hold’em poker game with a power-up twist. The player can choose to play from different poker Champs and each of these Champs have a special power-up that can be used to gain an advantage during the game. The poker Champs in the game are represented by dressed-up animal characters, whose power-ups are inspired mainly from their animal instincts.
An example is the shark character’s ability to use his sharp sense to detect the competitor’s anxiety levels, or the giraffe’s ability to use its elongated neck to take a peek at the opponent’s cards. True to the spirit of the adventure genre, more characters will be unlockable as the player progresses through the game.
For Playtrex CEO Daniel Kashmir, WildPoker and all other games under the Playtrex brand looks to evolve the social casino genre of gaming to become more fun and appealing to all kinds of players. Overall, the game mixes social poker with adventure, strategy and beautiful graphics.
Floyd will be a central character in the game since players can opt to play as his character or try and defeat him at the table. He will also be appearing throughout the gameplay, offering missions, challenges, and a variety of offers and bonuses.
In a statement, Mayweather said,
As soon as I saw Wild Poker, I knew I wanted to become part of it…It's a cutting edge game, this is that next thing, and like everything I put my name on, Wild Poker is the best ever
Apart from his worldwide fame as a boxer, Mayweather is known for his fondness for gambling and sports-betting. In fact, Mayweather made the headlines recently for his aggressive betting. Mayweather showed off over $100,000 in jackpot winnings from a video poker machine in September.
His Twitter feed is also colored with his various betting tickets. In an interview in 2011, he confirmed that he gambles everyday. His favorite bets are basketball games, winning him tens of thousands of dollars on NBA events. It was reported recently that he even tried placing a multi-million dollar bet on himself during his fight against Conor McGregor.
According to Sky Sports, the English FA have charged Everton striker Oumar Niasse with an alleged act of simulation.
It is a historic ruling, as no player has ever received the charge. The striker now has until 6am to appeal the decision. The incident in question occurred during the Toffees 2-2 draw at rock-bottom Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Niasse went down in the box while running alongside two Crystal Palace defenders, the closest of which was Eagles centre-back Scott Dann.
Referee Anthony Taylor then pointed to the spot. Full-back Leighton Baines then scored with the resulting spot-kick to make it 1-1.
If Niasse decides not to appeal then he could face the possibility of a two-game retrospective ban. If so he would become the first player to fall victim of the new rules on simulation brought in at the beginning of the season.
A panel of one ex-player and one ex-manager deal with any incidents were a player has allegedly attempted to deceive officials in order to gain a decision in his favour. The panel have to review the footage of the action separately and then come together to make a decision. Only when a unanimous decision is taken can the player be charged and face the prospective punishment of a ban.
A ban would be a major blow to Niasse and Everton, as he has been in good form in recent weeks. The striker has scored three goals in his last four Premier League after reviving his career on Merseyside following a frustrating first year with the club.
The Toffees are currently struggling in the Premier League. In fact, they are 16th in the table and only clear of the relegation zone by three points. Oumar Niasse is their top scorer in all competitions this season and is now a vital member of their team.
Everton have struggled for points this season and have yet to appoint a replacement for former boss Ronald Koeman. Interim boss David Unsworth has now taken four points from his last two games. However, there is uncertainty about his position in the long-term.
Watford boss Marco Silva is the favourite to be the next Everton boss, despite the fact that the Hornets are unwilling to allow the Portuguese boss permission to speak to the Merseysiders. The 40-year-old is reportedly first choice of the Toffees majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri for the role.
Former-Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has now emerged as a surprise contender for the job after his odds tumbled at the bookmakers over the last 24 hours. Not only has the experienced boss previously managed German giants Bayern Munich and Barcelona, along with AZ Alkmaar and the Netherlands national team.
The 66-year-old has enjoyed enormous success during his managerial career. He won domestic titles in his homeland, Spain and Germany, as well winning the Champions League with Ajax in 1995. Van Gaal reportedly retired from football management after leaving United in 2016. However, the rumour mill and the British tabloids are suggesting that the experienced boss may make a return to the game on Merseyside in the near future.
Lawsuits have been piling up against MGM Resorts International after the October 1 mass shooting, where a lone shooter rained fire on 22,000 concertgoers from his Mandalay Bay suite. Many of the lawsuits are hinged on the assumption that MGM Resorts should take responsibility over the damages and lost lives because of its negligence to foresee the event, and its failure to respond to the events in a timely manner.
Litigators are expecting a long and arduous legal process. But a Nevada Supreme Court decision made soon after the October 1 shooting that might have turned the tides in favour of those suing MGM. The Supreme Court ruling stemmed from a case filed against another MGM company, New York-New York. In 2010, couple Carey Humphries and Lorenzo Rocha were assaulted inside the casino and a lower Nevada court ruled that the MGM could not have had knowledge that the attack would happen.
That decision was appealed and the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in a 2-1 decision a few days before the Mandalay Bay shooting. While Justice Kristina Pickering dissented, Justices James Hardesty and Ron Parraguirre ruled that the attack should have been foreseeable since they found evidence that showed attacks and fights were happening at the resort thrice a week.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
According to Craig Drummond, one of the lawyers who appealed in behalf of the couple, this kind of ruling shows the extent of the resort’s responsibility over events in such cases. This will make it difficult for MGM to argue that they could not have foreseen the lone event since it’s not just about proving an exact circumstance prior to the attack—it’s about proving there have been similar cases of violence that should have prompted the hotel to devise stringent security measures to prevent such events from happening.
Longtime civil litigator Robert Eglet agreed with Drummond and said that the new Supreme Court decision could be interpreted to take into consideration similar cases of mass violence in other places or buildings.
In a statement, Eglet said,
I think it broadens the scope of the things a judge has to look at to determine whether this event was foreseeable. In other words, it’s no longer, ‘Has anything like this ever happened at Mandalay Bay?’ It’s, ‘Has anything happened like this anywhere?
MGM knows the new ruling could be used against them and in response, MGM lawyers have filed a new appeal to review the decision on the Humphries case. The court papers filed argued that the decision would overextend its implications beyond litigants Humphries and Rocha.
When all the Mandalay Bay shooting lawsuits are filed, lawyers are expecting these to be consolidated into one whole case. Right now, four new lawsuits are being filed in Los Angeles instead of Nevada. Chad Pinkerton, a Houston based lawyer said the reason behind the filing in California was due to the fact that a number of plaintiffs lived in California and wanted to ensure that their petition would be heard in a court that would not be easily influenced by the political and economic power of MGM Resorts.