States To Tax Video Gamers

You won a million dollars playing the video game League of Legends, what will you do next?

Go to Disneyland?

No, pay state taxes.


The state taxman is getting wise to the new professional sports leagues and are taxing, or intending to tax, video gamers for money won at the tournaments.

Like the “jock tax” where each state taxes an athlete if s/he plays a game in that state, video gamers need to be aware that they will be subject to the same income taxation in New York as Derek Jeter if they, say, win money at Madison Square Garden just using their thumbs.

In addition, if you are an e-sports team owner, you probably should be withholding federal and state income tax from your player if you are paying them a salary. One international team interviewed by the Washington Post doesn’t withhold but provides players with an accountant to help them figure it out.

Governments are reactionary; it takes time to catch up, but once they do, watch out!

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Corona Virus Hitting Chinese Box Office

What else is the corona virus killing?

It’s killing the Chinese box office.


Deadline reports that “all local film releases scheduled for the highly lucrative Chinese New Year period have been” cancelled.

This could lead to a loss in global box office receipts of upwards of $1 Billion. For the same period in 2019, the Chinese box office totatled “RMB 5.8B ($836M at today’s rates) with the month of February achieving a benchmark RMB 11.1B ($1.6B) boosted by the New Year” films.

Rumors note that the movie theaters could remain shut through the end of the month if not longer with several cities having closed all public spaces.

While the distributors are saying that they are postponing the opening of their films, the scuttlebutt is that there is government intervention going on.

This will further hurt US pictures when the theaters open up as the government will be giving local films priority.

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Square Patents Method To Seamlessly Transact Bitcoin

WTF is this? “.. a method includes receiving a request for payment …where the request specifies a payment amount in a fiat currency and satisfy[ing] the request for payment using a non-fiat instrument.”

It is a new U.S. Patent granted to Square, a payment processor, that permits “users holding different asset types to transact with one another in real-time.”


In other words, it’s a seamless way to transact in dollars and Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. And it could be revolutionary, allowing merchants to accept Bitcoin and then quickly turn them into dollars.

It may also be problematic for regulators in that it could allow buyers to keep their identities private whereas,  a credit card carries with it a ton of personal information.

It appears that Square is moving fast to assimilate this new technology by creating digital wallet developer kits for others to get involved in transactions.

The patent:,540,639.PN.&OS=PN/10,540,639&RS=PN/10,540,639

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Netflix Starting To Feel New Competition

Did you know that if a streaming show appears on your screen for 2 minutes, you’ve “watched” it?

That’s how Netflix is counting viewership now. So, even if you’re sampling a show on the service to see if you want to invest your time, for public statistical purposes, you have. (Got to admit that I’ve stumbled around on shows for 2 minutes, ultimately deciding that they appear to be awful and have moved on.)

Publicly traded companies are giving fourth quarter 2019 updates and it appears that the playing field is starting to change in the streaming arena.

Netflix noted a subscriber increase but the underlying news is that its new subscribers in the U.S. did not meet estimates (perhaps because of new competition coming online) but world wide subscribers  did beat. It has predicted a lower than expected subscriber increase in Q1 2020 reflecting “in part “the continued, slightly elevated churn levels we are seeing in the U.S.” — which are largely a result of increased streaming competition.”


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Fan Crowdfunding To Get Superbowl I Tape Released

On Sunday, February 2nd, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Superbowl LIV (that’s 54 for you non-Romans).

Superbowl I (one) was played way back in 1967, almost television pre-history.


And only one person is known to have recorded the game. He’s dead now and the family wants to publish the tape.

But, the big mean NFL claims rights to the game and the tape and is threatening to sue if the tape is released to the sports crazy public.

One fan is now crowdfunding to make a documentary about the tale of the tape.

He thinks that if the story gets out, the publicity will be enough to shame the NFL into allowing the tape’s release. (His Kickstarter page reminds folks that the NFL has sued churches for having Superbowl watch parties.)

While the all-or-none target is a modest $50,000 to make the film, the top stretch goal is $750,000 to buy the tape from the owners.

Play ball!

(Photo: WSJ)


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Venezuela Demands Payment In Crypto

I’m sure your remember the cryptocurrency introduced by Venezuela two years ago.

Named Petros, the digital money is backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves. Most citizens have no idea how to buy or use it.


Although under U.S. sanctions, the country still exports about a million barrels of oil a day.

Last week, embattled President Maduro required that buyers pay their port fees using the Petro in a scheme to reduce dependence on foreign currency (eg, the U.S. dollar) and to prop up the country’s cryptocurrency.

Most buyers don’t pay Venezuela cash for the oil, instead bartering with refined products like gasoline.

Shipping agents are now afraid that using the Petro will run afoul of the sanctions and the sale of Venezuela crude has ground to a halt.

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The Chicken Or The Egg Movie Question

While the Wall Street Journal notes that Universal brought in two other directors to “fix” the $175 million movie “Doolittle” which has received only a 13% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to a 90% rating for “1917”), the more interesting statistic is in the chart regarding the movie career of Robert Downey, Jr. (below).


The seminal question about actors is what sells the movie to the public?

Is it the “A-list” actor or the film itself (the story, the characters, the plot, the time period, etc.)?

The stats on Mr. Downey appear to indicate that his success is based on his appearing in “franchise” comic book movies.

And, from the article it appears that, notwithstanding his $20 million fee and gross revenue percentage take, his face alone will not rescue a film that has him extracting debris from an animal’s rectum.

It would be interesting to see if other “stars” careers have a similar trajectory.

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