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Wanna trade?

Bloomberg this week brought us the fascinating story of Jaime Rogozinski, a little-known figure who, despite his relative obscurity, may have had a tremendous impact on the modern world of investing.

Rogozinski is the founder of a Reddit forum called WallStreetBets: “The bizarre and often offensive message board that … would eventually come to occupy a key position at the centre of a movement that turned millions of young Americans into investors and traders.”

The article comes on the back of another recent surge in the price of video game retailer GameStop shares, as WallStreetBets members managed to surge the stock more than 500% in two weeks.

A similar story took the world by storm in 2021, after which the idea of the ‘meme stock’ really began to take hold. The collective power of amateur traders like Rogozinski had become clear, and an ever-increasing number of young people were tempted to join the world of investing.

“The foolhardy trading that was performed on WallStreetBets, which violated all the established rules of investing, was a form of rebellion and a sign of the pervasive distrust of the old ways of doing things that had emerged in the wake of the financial crisis,” Bloomberg points out.

So while the members of forums like WallStreetBets don’t always make the smartest decisions, they have already had a significant impact on the global economy.

According to the article, they are changing the way companies raise money for their real-world operations, while also broadening the ownerships of stocks among ordinary Americans.

“The financial realm has become a part of popular culture, and that isn’t going away. Academics and experts are only beginning to contend with the influence, both good and bad, that this will have on society and the real economy that the financial markets feed,” the piece goes on.

“What’s clear for now is that this often bizarre new universe of money and trading sets this generation of Americans apart from any that came before.”

Readers are encouraged to view this fascinating story in full, to get the whole picture on how one small online forum helped change the face of investing forever.

War on gambling

The Guardian this week reported on fears around a possible “betting crisis at the heart of the US military”.

According to the article, service members are more likely than the general public to engage in problematic gambling, but understanding and support are severely lacking within the armed forces.

And while the recent proliferation of sports betting across the US may well have a part to play, “this institutional problem – at the heart of the US military – can be traced back decades,” the article suggests.

It tells the story, for example, of Dave Yeager, a former sergeant who developed a gambling addiction while stationed in Korea in the early 2000s.

While slot machines were banned from military bases in the US in 1951, they soon began to come back in the 1980s, “with the idea that it would keep the troops from running into off-base trouble.”

“Currently, the US military operates more than 3,000 slot machines on bases in 12 countries – down from 8,000 slots in 94 countries in 1999, according to the Pentagon,” the piece continues.

“That’s besides the other chance games the military sponsors on bases, with service members as young as 18 able to participate.”

Those machines bring in upwards of $100m annually, according to the piece, which is subsequently put towards “morale, welfare and recreation initiatives” such as cinemas and golf courses.

According to former sergeant Yeager, however, none of that money goes towards education, screening or prevention around problem gambling.

This article serves as a clear call-to-action for the US military, to begin approaching this problem far more seriously.

“I’m telling you right now: it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing stories come out about the major who lost their commission, or the sergeant who committed treason because of their gambling addiction,” Yeager concludes. 

“There’s so much more we need to do. And that’s why I don’t shut up.”

A simple deal for DraftKings?

Amid several rumours making their way through the industry, SportsHandle reported this week that a potential acquisition of SimpleBet by DraftKings could give the company a “leg-up in the AI race”.

First reported earlier this week by industry newsletter Earnings + More, DraftKings is thought to be closing in on an acquisition of the micro-betting specialist.

Not long after its $750m deal to acquire lottery courier Jackpocket, DraftKings is showing no signs of slowing down on the M&A front, if reports are to be believed.

SimpleBet is powered by technologies like AI and machine learning to deliver rapid betting outcomes on individual plays.

“The ubiquity of artificial intelligence has the potential to reshape the business world, while possibly transforming the global economy,” SportsHandle suggests, and not least in the world of online gambling.

“In sports betting, the company that properly leverages AI to its advantage can gain a leg up on the competition,” it argues.

Earlier this month, SimpleBet suggested it had recorded more than 7 million wagers since the start of April.

Over the six weeks, the firm reported a 120% year-on-year increase in handle, while it also saw a considerable increase in unique users.

“We are delighted to see triple-digit growth in our baseball product across the first full month and a half of the season compared to last year, as the betting public continues to engage with the excitement generated via micro-betting,” said Simplebet CEO Chris Bevilacqua in a statement.

A fast-growing business like that, with the potential to seriously bolster DraftKings’ existing tech stack, could well be exactly the kind of deal the betting giant is looking for.

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