Amelia Belle CasinoLouisiana's lawmakers are planning to rewrite some of the laws that govern the state's riverboat casinos like the Amelia Belle Casino.

This will be the first time in nearly two decades that there will be a possibility for change. These changes are focused at moving riverboat casinos onto land and setting in place limits on gambling space.

These changes were suggested by the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force set up by the state back in 2016. The task force has three main goals: update the river casino infrastructure, ensure competitiveness for the state's casinos, and promotion of the Louisiana gambling industry to help with local development.

Louisiana riverboat casinos started their operations back in 1991 after a bitter and long drawn out debate in the conservative state took place regarding the introduction of US casinos. The decision to allow riverboat casinos hinged on the fact that they brought another stream of revenue to the state. Since then, the state has been a bit hands-off when it comes to gambling legislation. The only additional change to the law was made back in 2001 when the riverboats were allowed to be permanently docked. This amendment meant that riverboat casinos no longer needed to cruise down the Mississippi river on a regular basis. Riverboat casinos reciprocated by paying the state a higher tax rate.

This higher tax rate is reflected in the amount that the casinos contribute to the state coffers. The gambling industry generates $900 million in revenue to the state and $400 million comes directly from riverboat casinos. Besides the large contribution to the state, riverboat casinos also employ more than 20,000 people and have a payroll of $348 million, which is another help to the state economy.

The task force came up with several proposals to further develop riverboat casinos in the state. First, it would be to allow riverboat casinos to operate gambling activities within 1,200 feet of the riverboat's berth. Next, there is a proposal to remove the iverboats' paddle wheels since Louisiana is one of the last states that require riverboat casinos still operate on water.

Finally, there is the removal of the cap of 30,000 feet of gambling space and 2,365 seats in the location.

Lake Charles Republican Senator Ronnie Johns is fully behind these proposed changes to the gaming laws that govern these riverboat casinos. There are currently 15 riverboat casinos in the state and Johns who is also the chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board believes that these changes will further benefit riverboat casinos.

In a statement, Johns said

I think we have started a discussion that’s been years in the making. We can make some meaningful changes. We can promote a reinvestment in this economy in Louisiana. I think we can create some jobs.

The Canadian long track speed skating team has lost their head coach Michael Crowe after he took a leave of absence on short notice and less than a month before the Winter Olympics. The team is now left without a head coach and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea is scheduled to start in February.

Speed Skating Canada told CBC Sports that their head coach has taken a leave of absence from the speed skating team rather abruptly after sending in an email. The e-mail states that Crowe will most likely make his return once the Olympic Games are over. There were no other details provided and no reason was given regarding the leave of absence. It is rather strange that Crowe decided to take a leave of absence before the Olympics and chose to send an email to inform Speed Skating Canada.

In a statement, a representative of Speed Skating Canada said

Michael Crowe is currently on leave from his position as head coach until at least after the Olympic Games. Speed Skating Canada has launched an internal investigation and there is currently a process in place

Speed Skating Canada did not provide any other information regarding the internal investigation or confirm what exactly will be investigated. On January 10, 2018, members of the Canadian speed skating team were notified of Crowe's leave of absence. This is the same day that Speed Skating Canada named 10 men and 9 women who'll represent the country at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang which commences from February 9, 2018.

Global News

Speed Skating Canada put up a positive front and told the media that despite the lack of a head coach, they still have the leadership required to enable their athletes to perform at their best in Pyeongchang. The organization also confirmed that they would not take any steps to find a new head coach to jump in before the Olympics and would prefer to use their internal resources and find leaders who can step up in the absence of head coach Crowe.

The 64-year-old Crowe started his speed skating career as an athlete back in 1974. In 1983, he joined the U.S. team's coaching staff and has coached both America and Canada during the last 30 years. His career has been studded with accomplishments which include being named U.S coach of the year in 1988 and 2002. He also received the 2010 coach of the year award in Canada. Crowe has been with Team Canada since 2007 and was part of the coaching staff at the 2007 and 2014 Olympic games.

Will this news disrupt the team? How well do you think the Speed Skating Team can do a the Winter Olympics 2018? For the latest Canadian betting odds, read our exclusive section.

Wednesday night’s FA Cup third replays produced major drama. In the end, Chelsea, Wigan and Swansea headed through to the fourth round. If you missed what happened in Tuesday night’s replay’s there is a recap here.

Here is what happened in the drama-filled Wednesday night games:

Chelsea 1-1 Norwich AET (Chelsea won 5-3 on penalty kicks)

Antonio Conte confronts the referee after win vs Norwich City in FA Cup Thrid Round Replay 2018This game had everything, including referee Graham Scott deciding not to use VAR on three penalty appeals for Chelsea.

Both teams struck the woodwork before the home side finally broke the deadlock on 55 minutes, Michy Batshuayi scoring from a Kenedy cross. The goal was the Blues first in six hours of competitive action.

Norwich looked to hit back, as Murphy’s effort struck the post, while Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero also produced a good save from a James Madison effort.

The Canaries did find an equaliser in stoppage-time to send the game into extra-time. Timm Klose cross from the left and Jamal Lewis headed past Caballero.

Willian was booked for simulation in the Norwich box in extra-time. Referee Scott decided not to use VAR to review the incident, despite the Brazilian appearing to be clipped.

Canaries’ goalkeeper Gunn produced saves from Willian and Morata. Chelsea’s Spanish winger Pedro was then dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Compatriot Morata was also given a second yellow card soon afterwards for diving in the Norwich area and protesting the decision. Again, Scott decided against using VAR to establish if the striker had in fact dived.

The Blues did eventually come out on top, courtesy of a 5-3 penalty shoot-out. However, the main talking point was referee Scott and his decision not to use VAR in making some big decisions.

Despite their struggles to make it past their Championship opposition, the Blues are still one of the favourites to lift the FA Cup this season.

Swansea 2-1 Wolves

Premier League Swansea saw off their Championship opponents, despite the visitors heading into this game in superior form.

The Welsh side took the lead on 11 minutes. Jordan Ayew shot good feet to beat a number of Wolves defenders before firing home. Wolves equalised on 66 minutes. Portuguese substitute Diego Jota embarrassed three Swansea defenders before slotting past Kristoffer Nordfeldt in the home goal.

However, parity did not last long, three minutes in fact, as the home side regained the lead. The Wolves defence failed to clear a centre by Tom Carroll and with the visitor’s defenders static, striker Wilfried Bony poked the ball home.

The Welsh side joined compatriots Cardiff City and Newport County in the fourth round, which means there will be three teams from Wales in the fourth round for only the third time ever.

Wigan 3-0 Bournemouth

Premier League strugglers Bournemouth came undone at League One high-fliers Wigan Athletic.

The Latics took the lead on nine minutes. Will Grigg attempted to flick a Ryan Colclough cross home, only for Artur Boruc to save. However, Sam Morsy was on hand to score with the rebound.

The home side doubled their lead with 17 minutes left on the clock. Max Power’s cross evaded Noel Hunt but bounced to Dan Burn, who adjusted his feet quickly before firing in off the bar. The home side wrapped up the win three minutes later. Power crossed to the far post and full-back Callum Elder headed back into the far corner.

The Latics will now face another Premier League struggler in West Ham in the next round. Meanwhile, the Cherries can turn their attention back to Premier League survival.

Can Chelsea now go on to win the FA Cup?

After declining for two consecutive days, the crypto market started recovering yesterday evening. Bitcoin, which fell to a low of about $9,500 yesterday, has already gained nearly $2,000 to trade near $11,500. Likewise, Ethereum and Ripple, the next two major crypto currencies, has gained almost 40% from the yesterday’s low to trade at $1,000 and $1.37, respectively. So, it was yet another chance to make tons of money in a short span of time.

Fundamentally, nothing has changed in the past 24hrs. South Korea’s plan to ban crypto currency trading stands as it is. Similarly, China continues to do all it can to end crypto trading and mining. Still, the market has bounced back quickly.

Statistics indicate that it is how Bitcoin has been behaving on charts during the past three years. In 2015, Bitcoin recorded its yearly low on January 15. In 2016 the low was recorded on January 16. Last year, the crypto currency recorded its lowest rate on January 12. Therefore, a majority of traders considers it as an opportunity to enter at the best possible price of the year.

If South Korea passes a bill banning crypto currency trading, then it would have a negative impact only for a short period of time. As crypto currencies are decentralized, it won’t take much of a time for exchanges to move elsewhere, maybe to Belarus, Russia or even Japan. Since crypto currencies can be exchanged peer-to-peer, it would be incredibly difficult for a government to stop transactions completely. It may be illegal, but will certainly continue. It can be compared to how businesses tried in vain to get rid of BitTorrent.

The steep decline can be explained as an act of speculators, who would have sold to make some quick money, and beginners with little knowledge about the manner in which the cryptos function. Even if a few hundred nodes go out of business due to a blanket ban, still, the block chain network can function. Thus, considering the inherent strength of decentralized networks, crypto currencies will prevail. That is one of the reasons for the strong rebound, which we are seeing today.

The crypto currency market is in a nascent stage and volatility cannot be avoided. Ironically, the words of legendary investor Warren Buffett, a big critic of Bitcoin, suits the scenario perfectly. Buffett had said

“Unless you can watch your stock holding decline by 50% without becoming panic-stricken, you should not be in the stock market.”

A recent article about Bitcoin on CNBC says

“Many people think that bitcoin is a bubble, and that’s predicted on the concept that bitcoin has no value. But there’s reason to believe that that just isn’t true. By definition, bitcoin is scarce. And the cryptocurrency may have utility as a superior way to store and exchange wealth.”

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial GroupAccording to the Japanese publication Mainichi, the fourth largest bank in the world, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) will soon launch its own crypto currency named MUFG coin. MUFG is the largest financial services company in Japan and the first bank to issue a crypto currency.

MUFG planned to launch its own crypto currency as early as 2016. It is now finalized. The crypto coin will be launched in 2018. MUFG coin will enable users to conduct peer-to-peer transactions instantaneously and also shop with lower fees. All transactions will be processed on the block chain network of the MUFG coin, leading to an improvement in the stability. Similar to Tether, each MUFG coin will be pegged to one Japanese yen. The banking and financial services firm anticipates that it will make the people confident of using the new crypto currency.

Notably, the Japanese e-commerce giant DMM Group launched a crypto currency exchange on January 11. So far, the exchange has listed seven crypto currencies for trading. While countries such as South Korea and China continue to take steps to curb crypto currency trading, Japan has adopted a positive approach to crypto currencies.

Ron ResnickAccording to a press release, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), which is the world’s largest block chain alliance, announced that it has appointed Ron Resnick, the former president and chairman of the Airfuel Alliance, as its first executive director. The EEA, which was formed in February 2017, includes several fortune 500 enterprises such as Microsoft, Accenture, Cisco, Credit Suisse, Infosys, Intel, JP Morgan, NTT Data, Santander, and Mastercard. The alliance currently has around 200 members.

Resnick has previously served as the president and chairman of the WiMax Forum. He worked with Intel’s broadband wireless business to launch one of the first 4G modems.

Julio Faura, chairman of the EEA board, stated

“4G wireless broadband changed the world. We believe Blockchains will have a similar impact on society. Ron’s task as our first Executive Director is to build-out the organization, engage with members and foster the continued development of technical content.”

The EEA was established to ensure privacy, security, and scalability of the Ethereum block chain and its native crypto token Ether. Resnick will host an EEA event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 23.

Resnick said

“My focus is to drive the further development of Ethereum-based technology best practices, open standards and open-source reference architectures to evolve Ethereum into an enterprise-grade technology.”

 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis have presented a detailed article after studying the pros and cons of Bitcoins and other altcoins.

In the article, Berentsen and Schär have opined that Bitcoin is more robust than fiat currencies. The scholars have also argued that crypto currencies have the necessary characteristics to become an important asset class.

The duo have said that crypto currencies are a welcome addition to the prevailing currency ecosystem. As a counter argument to those who have forecast that Bitcoin will drop to zero, Berentsen and Schär have argued that even the value of a fiat currency can drop to zero.

The research report from Berentsen and Schär says

“Bitcoin is not the only currency that has no intrinsic value,” states the article. “State monopoly currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc, have no intrinsic value either. They are fiat currencies created by government decree. The history of state monopoly currencies is a history of wild price swings and failures. This is why decentralized crypto currencies are a welcome addition to the existing currency system.”

Berentsen and Schär believe that the consensus rules of Bitcoin may be eventually changed to allow an increase in the total supply. They have also mentioned that such a move would be opposed by the Bitcoin community.

Considering the fact that undesirable changes in fiat currency protocols happen often, leading to a destruction of the value of the fiat currency, Berentsen and Schär believes that Bitcoin protocol is certainly robust than many of the fiat currency protocols.

Apart from mentioning a few basic details about altcoins, the report also provides an outlook for Bitcoin. Berentsen and Schär visualize crypto currencies to emerge as a separate asset class, facilitating investment and diversification. The article even says that Bitcoin can assume a similar role as the yellow metal. Interestingly, the report covers applications of block chain technology in the areas of smart contracts, colored coins, and data integrity. Berentsen and Schär have particularly pointed out Ethereum as a leader in the smart contract domain.

The article has pointed out three main risks associated with crypto assets. Firstly, forking of block chain networks, leading to the creation of another altcoin is listed as a major risk for the crypto currencies. However, the article did not go into the downsides of forking. Secondly, the article considers high power consumption as a major risk. However, Berentsen and Schär do not consider proof-of-work is wasteful.

Berentsen and Schär have written

“There are those that criticize Bitcoin and assert that a centralized accounting system is more efficient because consensus can be attained without the allocation of massive amounts of computational power. From our perspective, however, the situation is not so clear-cut. Centralized payment systems are also expensive. Besides infrastructure and operating costs, one would have to calculate the explicit and implicit costs of a central bank. Salary costs should be counted among the explicit costs and the possibility of fraud in the currency monopoly among the implicit costs.”

The third major risk associated with crypto assets, according to Berentsen and Schär, is the price volatility. Berentsen and Schär argue that a predetermined supply of Bitcoin will not lead to a stable currency. The article says “If a constant supply of money meets a fluctuating aggregate demand, the result is fluctuating prices.”

In case of the US dollar, the Fed manages liquidity and ensures a limited volatility. Such a mechanism is not prevalent and possible in a decentralized currency such as Bitcoin. Therefore, price fluctuations will be higher than many government-backed fiat currencies.

It is the first time such a detailed presentation about Bitcoin has come from the Fed officials.

On Tuesday night, a number of FA Cup third round replays took place, with Premier League Leicester and West Ham both booking their places in the FA Cup fourth round with victories. Here is what happened in those replays:

Leicester 2-0 Fleetwood

Kelechi Iheanacho awaits VAR goal decision vs Fleetwood Town in FA Cup Third Round Replay 2018The Foxes prevailed on a historic night, as Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho become the first player to ever benefit from VAR. The striker opened the scoring just before half time, picking up the ball from Islam Slimani and sliding it under the outcoming Neal in the Fleetwood goal.

On 77 minutes came the big moment. Iheanacho had already seen an effort ruled out for offside earlier in the half. However, this time he would be denied. The striker was once again flagged for being offside. Referee Jon Moss was not convinced though and stopped play for a short time to consult VAR before overruling his linesman.

The tie may not live long in the memory of most watching. However, it will go down in the history books for the use of VAR.

BT Sport

West Ham 1-0 Shrewsbury AET

Premier League West Ham were always going to find it difficult against high-flying League One side Shrewsbury. In fact, the Irons needed extra-time to put the third tier team to the sword.

The game was relatively quiet. However, the visitors had a chance to take the lead on 64 minutes, but Joe Hart kept out Stefan Payne’s effort. Irons substitute Marko Arnautovic went close to breaking the deadlock, while the home side also had efforts cleared off the line in extra-time by Aristote Nsiala and James Bolton.

The breakthrough finally arrived in the 112th minute. A corner kick was cleared by the Shrews defence, only for the ball to be hooked back into the box to youngster Reece Burke, whose powerful effort went in off the underside of the bar.

The victory means that David Moyes side now faces a fourth-round tie with either Wigan or Bournemouth, who play on Wednesday night. The two teams will return to league action at the weekend, as West Ham host Bournemouth at the London Stadium. Meanwhile, Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury side will continue their promotion with a home game against Doncaster Rovers.

Tuesday’s other FA Cup third round replay results:

Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City

Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United

Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Wednesday night’s FA Cup third round replays

Struggling Premier League outfit Swansea City host Championship leaders Wolves on Wednesday night. The home heads into this clash as slight favourites. However, considering the two teams recent form in their respective leagues, Wolves will certainly fancy their chances of progression in this tie.

The Swans head into this game on the back of consecutive draws. However, the Welsh side have won just once in their last eight games in all competitions. The home side have a poor recent home record, winning just two of their last 11 games on home soil in all competitions.

Wolves are flying high in the Championship, ten points clear at the top of the table. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are undefeated in their last 14 outings in all competitions. Despite their priority being promotion, the side from the Midlands may still field a strong team for this clash.

Wednesday’s other FA Cup third-round replays

Chelsea v Norwich

Wigan v Bournemouth

Will the likes of Chelsea and Swansea be in the FA Cup fourth round?

Smart Dubai, an organization created to make Dubai the most technologically advanced city in the world, initiated a series of block chain-based pilot projects a few years before. Seeing the manner in which block chain technology is improving productivity and security, while offering total transparency, Smart Dubai has already extended the use of block chain technology to other sectors. The city is hopeful of implementing at least 20 block chain-based initiatives this year. Both IBM and Consensys are acting as advisors to assist the organization in achieving its goal.

Pilot projects are run in several sectors, using block chain technology. These include energy, health, education, road and transport, etc. Other government departments, which are running pilot programs are Department of Naturalization, Residency Dubai, and Dubai Customs. The implementation of block chain technology is expected to save 25 million hours of productivity every year. Notably, the block chain technology is currently being used for land registry transactions.

Aisha Bint Buti bin Bisher, director general of Smart Dubai, believes that block chain technology will significantly improve users’ experience. The deadline for the launch of the block chain-based initiatives are scheduled for 2020. However, Bisher is confident of completing the projects this year and turning Dubai, the block chain capital of the world.

The national technology officer at Microsoft Gulf, Ramez Dandan said “We strongly believe in the technology’s immense potential for enterprises of all scales and industries. It allows them to share business processes with suppliers, customers and partners, leading to new opportunities for multi-party collaboration and eventually exciting new business models.”

Middle-east governments have already started taking initiatives to offset the revenue loss due to the decline in oil price. We can only expect the investments in block chain technology to increase in the future as governments and enterprises understand the strength of this disruptive technology.

All the top ten crypto coins continue to bleed under the weight of regulatory scrutiny. Bitcoin fell below the psychological level of $10,000, but quickly recovered to trade above $10,500. Similarly, Ethereum is trading near the level of $950 and Ripple, which hit a hit of $3.84 a few weeks back, is trading near the level of $1. The first and foremost reason for the decline is the news of a possible blanket ban on crypto currency trading by South Korea.

South Korea’s crypto currency exchanges, as everybody knows, generate the majority or at least a considerable amount of trading volume in most of the crypto currencies. Therefore, the government’s decision to ban crypto currency trading is having a disastrous effect on the valuation of crypto currencies. Last week, South Korea’s Justice Minister Park Sang-Ki had announced that the government was preparing a bill to ban trading of the virtual currency on domestic exchanges.

Yesterday, South Korean news website Yonhap had reported that Finance Miniser Kim Dong-yeon had told that the government would soon come up with rules to clamp down on the “irrational” crypto currency investment craze.

The news has come at a time when China has started tightening the noose on crypto currency miners and traders. A senior Chinese central banker had suggested a ban on centralized trading of virtual currencies, while prohibiting individuals and businesses from providing crypto currency related services.

Notably, a director of the German central bank said Monday that a coordinated effort on a global scale is required to regulate crypto currencies as national or regional rules will be of little effect on a virtual community.
Apart from regulatory issues, there are some other concerns that could have led the decline. Bitcoin is considered to be a store of value. However, Ethereum and Ripple were created with an intention to serve business needs. While Ethereum is arguably the most popular platform among enterprises to host the decentralized applications, Ripple is yet to be used by banks. Therefore, crypto analysts argue that the rally was fuelled by mere excitement rather than empirical facts. That caused Ripple to tank quickly.

In the last week of December 2017, Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, had tweeted

All* crypto communities, ethereum included, should heed these words of warning. Need to differentiate between getting hundreds of billions of dollars of digital paper wealth sloshing around and actually achieving something meaningful for society.

The above words may probably be the best explanation for the crash we saw yesterday. If a crypto coin is not contributing anything meaningful, then its valuation will certainly decrease once the hype fades.

Ripple is also facing a court case that might decide the fate of the company. In 2016, Ripple’s former CEO Chris Larsen signed a deal with a bank consortium, known as R3. The contract allowed the partner of R3 to purchase 5 billion Ripple coins for less than a penny. That contract is now worth billions. Ripple has filed a counterclaim in the New York state court. The outcome of the case will have a big impact on Ripple and the banking industry as such. All these factors are leading to a sell off. As the market gets matured, only those crypto coins with a solid project will be able to bounce back. The others will disappear into oblivion.