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Regulators in five states simultaneously filed emergency orders Wednesday against a virtual casino they say has ties to Russia and that has been operating in the metaverse, a digital world where participants can interact with each other, purchase products and even gamble.
State law enforcement officials say Flamingo Casino Club’s operators failed to disclose its Russian ties and claimed it had partnerships with legitimate businesses when it didn’t. The civil filing represents a new and coordinated effort by state regulators to police some of what is going on amid the explosive growth of the metaverse, where innovation and speculation have also provided fertile territory for criminals engaged in alleged fraud, theft and deception.
State securities boards in Texas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, New Jersey and Alabama filed a 22-page emergency cease-and-desist order outlining what they allege are false claims by Flamingo Casino Club and requiring that it immediately halt the sale of its non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
“The offering is simply a high-tech scam,” the order said.
NFTs are blockchain-based digital assets that designate ownership of virtual art, music or, in this case, proprietorship of a metaverse casino to whoever holds the NFT. Moreover, every NFT has unique properties that cannot be replicated, proving its authenticity.
Investigators began scrutinizing the casino in March not long after it began operating and say they were ultimately able to trace the people behind it to Moscow.
In an exclusive interview, the lead agency’s top official told CNBC the casino lured in hopeful investors with false promises.
“I was absolutely shocked,” said Joe Rotunda, director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board.
Virtual concerts, poker tournaments and tennis courts are just a few of the perks listed on the organization’s website. Flamingo Casino Club’s website also told NFT holders they would receive 50% of the profits generated from the casino as passive income. It further enticed patrons by offering a chance to win exorbitant prizes such as Teslas and iPhones in its randomized lotteries, according to its website.The casino also widely marketed its affiliation with a well-known gambling establishment, the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, to secure investors’ trust.
But behind the fancy graphics, the promises of profits and the big-name backings was a scheme out of Russia to defraud investors that a team of state regulators unraveled, the order says.
Flamingo Casino Club is “intentionally failing to disclose its assets, liabilities, revenue and other financial information germane to its operations and the development and management of the metaverse casino,” according to the order.
The order says that although the casino sells securitized NFTs, it failed to provide purchasers with fundamental information such as its physical address, phone number, or any evidence proving the people on its leadership team actually existed.
“You’re talking about digital assets and anonymous individuals who are concealing their location,” Rotunda said. “So once the money is transferred … we may not be able to get it back, right? It goes into a black hole through the blockchain, and people may lose everything.”
In addition to this murky money trail, the purported partnership with the Flamingo Las Vegas, a well-established casino located on the Strip, was also fabricated, Rotunda said. The cease-and-desist order says Flamingo Casino Club’s “representations are false,” and the Las Vegas casino denies any relationship.
But the phony partnerships don’t end there, according to the order. Flamingo Casino Club touts affiliations with Yahoo and MarketWatch, but there’s no evidence substantiating any relationship with these businesses, the order says.
“Flamingo Casino Club is not providing purchasers with any information reflecting any type of relationship with either Yahoo or MarketWatch,” the order says, adding that the casino provided hyperlinks to press releases distributed to Yahoo Finance and MarketWatch.
In its promotional video, Flamingo Casino Club announced plans to build the virtual casino on the metaverse platform The Sandbox, but nothing’s been built yet.
The casino’s leadership team wrote on Instagram that it delayed purchasing digital land because of ongoing negotiations with Snoop Dogg, who owns portions of the Sandbox property it plans to build on, according to the order and the casino’s own social media posts.
The order said the casino is “intentionally failing to disclose the status of negotiations for purchasing virtual land from Snoop Dogg” as well as “the anticipated or projected cost of purchasing the virtual land.”
Through a series of subpoenas, regulators discovered that the IP address for Flamingo Casino Club’s desktop computer and mobile device are registered to Moscow, further diminishing the chances of investors seeing any returns.
“Investors have to chase those ghosts to try to recover. And they’re not going to recover if the money is going to Moscow,” Rotunda said.
Additionally, Rotunda said that the casino operators started mobilizing Flamingo Casino Club right around the time that Russia invaded Ukraine and that they later told investors some profits from their NFT sales would be donated to Ukrainian victims.
“And they didn’t just talk about how they were going to donate to Ukrainian civilians to one person or two people, they publicly proclaimed it,” Rotunda said. “I haven’t seen any money going to benefit Ukrainians.”
The term “metaverse” seems to be everywhere — in the news, on social media and even at the dinner table. Although the technology is far from mainstream, it’s quickly garnering the attention of tech and crypto investors. As a result, metaverse coins present an untapped opportunity for 2022.
It also helps that one of the biggest tech companies globally, Meta, is betting on the metaverse, even going so far as to change its name from Facebook. The company reportedly spent $10 billion on its metaverse project last year, calling it the future of technology. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain will play a vital role in that journey.
So, how is metaverse linked with cryptocurrencies? What is metaverse exactly? Plus, what metaverse tokens should you be buying? Here’s a look at everything you need to know about the metaverse and the best coins to invest in.
The good news is that because metaverse projects are fairly new, coin prices are quite low — well under $1 in many cases, and less than 1 cent in some. This opens the investment opportunity for nearly anyone. At the same time, it doesn’t mean all projects are worth your money.
It’s ideal to buy those metaverse coins that have shown potential through performance, utility, powerful financial backing or all three.
Here are some promising metaverse cryptocurrency coins for 2022.
APE is what’s known as an ERC-20 token, which means it exists on the Ethereum blockchain. As a governance and utility token, it allows holders to participate in governing the Ape ecosystem and gives them access to games and other products and service available only to apecoin holders.
In the not-too-distant future, apecoin holders will be able to use their coins in Otherside, an upcoming metaverse game from Yuga Labs, which created the wildly popular Bored Apes Yacht Club non-fungible tokens. Yuba Labs recently raised about $320 million in a virtual land sale that allowed APE token holders to purchase parcels in Otherside, Fortune reported. Holders purchased 55,000 lots, or “Otherdeeds,” and 45,000 went to other individuals, such as Yuba Labs NFT owners and project developers. The sale created so much traffic on the Ethereum network that it drove up “gas fees” — the fee each user pays to conduct a transaction over Ethereum.
Apecoin was launched on March 17, at which time about 30% of the maximum supply of 1 billion coins was expected to be in circulation. Despite its position as a brand-new token, it already has a market cap of $2.435 billion, making it the largest metaverse coin by that measure.
The crypto metaverse project The Sandbox has shown impressive performance. The native token of the platform, SAND, was consistently on the rise during 2021 and finally crossed the $1 mark in the last quarter, continuing its upward trajectory. As of May 15, SAND is selling for $1.37.
With a VR aspect, this project is realizing the vision of metaverse. The Sandbox is essentially a game, and it has the backing of gaming brands like Atari. HSBC recently purchased virtual real estate in its metaverse. But it’s heavily based on the creation and trade of NFTs. Players can create NFTs using the SAND metaverse tokens.
Like countless other cryptocurrency projects, this one is based on Ethereum.
Another promising factor is that it has a limited coin supply of 3 billion tokens, of which 1.23 billion are in use. Its market cap stands at $4.1 billion as of May 15.
In terms of popularity, Decentraland is one crypto metaverse project that has frequently been in the news. This was partly because of the NFT craze, which also led to significant gains for the platform’s native tokens, MANA.
Many NFT owners started using the platform to show off their NFTs. But NFTs aren’t the only thing on this metaverse platform. As its main feature, you can also buy virtual land and create virtual games and other digital assets –– hence the name.
Sotheby’s, the broker of luxury goods and art, bought a plot of land in Decentraland and used it to create a replica of its London offices. This goes to show that even big companies are eyeing metaverse projects.
Created in 2017, Decentraland is one of the older projects that has taken time to get recognition. Although MANA’s performance hasn’t been something to write home about, its market cap impressively stands at $2.28 billion as of May, making it the second-largest metaverse token by market cap. Like many, if not most, cryptocurrencies, MANA is down significantly since the beginning of the year, but it’s up over 8% compared to a year ago.
Highstreet is an interesting metaverse project with virtual reality support that has potential, at least in terms of metaverse applications. For one, you can shop for things inside this virtual universe using the currency HIGH. Some Shopify stores are already integrated into the platform. It also features gaming and has NFTs on its radar as well, so it seems to be up to date with tech and crypto trends. What’s more, HIGH is now available on Coinbase.
From a real-world — or in this case, meta world — point of view, this project already accomplishes what the metaverse technology promises. If you’re an investor who sees practicality as a measure, this might be a good option.
The project is backed by the tech company HTC and, in August 2021, raised $5 million. Its market cap as of May 2022 is over $24.68 million.
Yes, Floki Inu is yet another dog-meme-based cryptocurrency, but it’s in the running for viable metaverse crypto — especially for those looking for any undervalued cryptocurrencies. The currency is named after Elon Musk’s dog, which is a Shiba Inu — also the name of another crypto project.
The project’s website says that it aims to combine memes with real-world use cases. It also says that it will launch a game and an NFT marketplace as well as a content and education platform. This is a project that is still in the making, but that hasn’t stopped people from buying the FLOKI tokens.
Floki Inu has a market cap of $74.14 million and is selling for $0.0000008165 as of May 15.
Metahero is a new metaverse project that revolves around creating HD avatars of real-world objects and people using 3D scanning. The company has even installed a scanning chamber in Doha that scans objects and creates their digital, 3D form for the Metahero universe.
Metahero has partnered with Wolf Studio for this purpose. The cryptocurrency HERO, its native token, has a market cap of $84.8 million as of May 2022. Although that’s comparatively smaller than other tokens on this list, that’s because the project is very new.
Metahero’s YTD performance is at -87%, which is not out of line compared to other alt-cryptocurrencies. Its new listing on the Bybit exchange could give it a boost.
Terra Virtua Kolect is a project that goes back to 2017, when NFTs weren’t even in existence. However, now it’s a virtual environment that’s all about NFTs. You can create, sell and buy NFTs from other members using the native token TVK.
Since this project is banking on NFTs, it has massive potential given the surge in NFT investment. The platform is compatible with web, PC and augmented reality/VR environments, according to CoinMarketCap.
The TVK market cap as of now stands at over $28.87 million, while the YTD performance is -80%. However, new partnerships, such as a recent one with NFT game Kawaii Islands, could increase its user base enough to make it viable in the long term.
Star Atlas is a metaverse project based on a game offering stunning graphics. The game shows the future — the year 2620 to be exact — where players can conquer land and collect resources in a highly futuristic setting.
The game, which is still in development, also involves a metaverse token, ATLAS, which will be earned by playing the game. Think of it as an average reward-based game where you earn coins as you play and accomplish things. But in this case, the rewards have the potential to make gains.
The game is based on Solana, which gives it the advantage of low transaction fees as compared with Ethereum-based projects. Its market cap is over $20 million, and the coin trades for $0.009347.
You’ll see a lot of metaverse coins in games, and Enjin is no exception. It’s a metaverse-style gaming environment where you can “mint” the local token, ENJ, which you can then use to buy assets that will help you progress in the game.
Everything in the game, from medicine to feature enhancement of your character, can be paid for with ENJ. So it’s also like a marketplace.
Enjin is also based on the Ethereum blockchain and has over $648 million worth of market cap. Despite the volatility of the last several months, ENJ is up about 4077% since it was introduced in 2017. And it appears to be poised for growth. Enjin recently launched the first-ever NFT parachain on Polkadot, making available over 100 games and apps.
Epik Prime is a metaverse project that has become all about NFTs. The cryptocurrency EPIK is available on PancakeSwap, Hotcoin Global, KuCoin and Huobi Global. Epik licenses NFT collectibles and experiences to companies like Warner Music and Universal, according to CoinMarketCap, suggesting it’s likely to bounce back after the slump of the last few months.
EPIK was released just a year ago and has a market cap of $7.23 million. That’s the smallest by far of the coins on this list, but use cases from major companies make it worth considering. Of the maximum supply of 2 billion coins, over 349 million, or 17%, are in circulation.
Metaverse is the technology behind a virtual universe where people can shop, game, buy and trade currencies and objects, and more. Think of it as a combination of augmented reality, virtual reality, social media, gaming and cryptocurrencies.
In the metaverse, cryptocurrencies will serve as money. This is based on the blockchain concept. This naturally is where the terms “metaverse coins,” “metaverse tokens” and “metaverse crypto” arise from. Every metaverse project has tokens that are used for transactions within that particular environment.
Numerous metaverse projects are already in motion, and their tokens are available for purchase, with some even listed on certain coin exchanges. Both crypto investors and enthusiasts are eyeing these projects as they show potential.
According to Macro, a research firm based in the U.K., metaverse coins gains topped those of Bitcoin — with a whopping 37,000% increase — in 2021. Meanwhile, Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market value, made gains of 100%.
Metaverse projects range from virtual games to non-fungible token marketplaces, each proposing a unique concept and even some real-world applications.
Metaverse projects are appearing right and left, but some show real potential and stand above the crowd. The metaverse concept is deeply rooted in blockchain and cryptocurrency, which is why it can be a good idea to invest in some of these projects. Plus, the NFT buzz only seems to be increasing.
However, as with any other investment, don’t bet all your money on just one kind of metaverse coin, and don’t invest money you can’t afford to lose. It’s best to diversify, and more importantly, buy coins you think have potential.
Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.
Data is accurate as of May 15, 2022, and subject to change.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
Croatian mixed reality (MR) studio Delta Reality announced in a LinkedIn post last Tuesday that it would join the Virtual and Augmented Reality Association (VRARA) as a member of its board of global stakeholders.
Delta Reality is creating extended reality (XR) immersive experiences for global brands to accelerate virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) adoption and assist firms in developing modern marketing strategies.
The Croatian firm offers customers a rich XR asset library worth thousands to improve audience engagement and currently works with global XR-backed firms and brands such as Disney, Microsoft, Samsung, T-Mobile and many more.
Additionally, Delta Reality has designed its robust XR ecosystem as hardware agonistic, providing strategic partners with heightened distribution abilities and flexibility for their XR projects.
Supported devices from firms include Meta’s Quest series, HTC VIVE, Microsoft HoloLens, Magic Leap, Nreal, and Pico Interactive. Furthermore, Delta Reality supports a selection of software development kits and real-time 3D engines such as Unity, Snap Studio, and ARCore.
Delta Reality listed its Museum of Digital Life (MoDaL) as a piece of NFT real estate worth roughly 8.88 ETH (approximately £14809) in September last year.
Delta Reality designed the MoDal NFT as a Metaverse gallery to explore the intersection of art, technology, engineering, and mathematics in digital environments supporting 2D and 3D art exhibitions.
The news comes after the VRARA held its Metaverse 2.0 event this March, hosted by its Immerse Global Summit division. At the event, XR thought leaders explored Metaverse laws and best practices, as well as keynotes to explore cryptocurrency, blockchain, NFTs, and virtual real estate with attendees.
The VRARA also hosts events throughout the year, including its Global European Summit, VRARA Education Forum, and Immerse Global Summit events.
The VRARA’s board includes global industry figures representing advertising, retailers, brands, and XR component vendors. The association also hosts several yearly events to promote XR technology and adoption, including speakers from immersive firms such as Lenovo, Meta Platforms, HP, and Vuzix.
The news comes amid a spike in Metaverse real-estate transactions, which broke records in October last year after investors bought virtual plots of land on Decentraland and Axie Infinity for $2.43 million and $2.3 million, respectively.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall build a metaverse, but lose his investors?” This is what the developers of Shiba Inu are pondering.
With the promise to make its investors and other interested members of the public “landowners”, the Shiba Inu ecosystem last month launched its Shib Metaverse. The sale of lands on Shib: The Metaverse was in three phases; the Bid Event and the Holders event being the first two phases and the Public Sale being the third phase.
In the first two phases, LEASH and SHIBOSHI tokens were used to drive the land sale project as only the holders of these tokens were allowed to bid and purchase lands. During the Bid Event and the Holders Event, data from Etherscan revealed that investors spent 6280 ETH to acquire lands on the Shib Metaverse.
In April, the ecosystem kickstarted the public sales phase wherein anyone interested would be allowed with their LEASH tokens, to acquire the remaining lands on the Shib Metaverse.
However, it is interesting to note that since the last phase of the land sale commenced, the LEASH Token continually took on a downtrend and shed over 50%. What else did we spot in the last 23 days?
The public sale of land on the Shib Metaverse commenced on 23 April. Starting this journey at an index price of $999, the LEASH token within the time under review, declined by a whopping 52%.
Recording a measly increment of 0.3% in the last 24 hours, the token, despite being the primary token used to conduct the sale of land on the Shib Metaverse, its worth continued to suffer a decline. With an ATH of $4,528.43 recorded 11 months ago, the token declined by over 80% with a current price of $485.06.
More troubling news for investors as a consideration of movement on price charts revealed significant bearish divergence during the period under review. Since 8 April, increased selling pressure was spotted on price charts.
Since the public sale commenced the RSI maintained a position below the 50 neutral position on a downward trend into oversold regions. At the time of press this stood at 39.
Similarly, the RSI for the LEASH Token toed a similar progression. Deep in the oversold position of 0.17 at the time of press, significant distribution of the LEASH token was ongoing. Since public sales began, it also retained a position below the 50 neutral region and went further downwards.
In addition, the MACD movement was another indication of a bearish bias during the period under review. Intersecting with the trend line on a downward trend since 8 April, the LEASH Token seemed to have seen better days.
Despite being the primary token used to conduct the sale of lands on the SHIB Metaverse, no significant traction has been recorded so far. With current price movements, the token might be a long way from reclaiming its ATH of $4000.
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