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MERKUR UK publish Sustainability Report

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MERKUR UK has published the second edition of its Sustainability Report which covers social initiatives undertaken by the Group and its family of UK brands throughout 2023.

Produced by Lee Willows, founder and Executive Chair of ESG Gaming, the report documents MERKUR UK’s far-ranging activities which include high street investment, supporting community-based good causes, creating and sustaining employment opportunities, protecting the environment, promoting safer gambling and encouraging diversity in the work place.

The MERKUR UK Sustainability Report which is titled ‘Investing in the High Street, Revitalising Local Economies’ is being distributed to all MPs who have MERKUR Slots or MERKUR Bingo venues in their constituencies, to DCMS, the Gambling Commission, GambleAware and associated not for profit organisations, the Shadow Minister for Gambling as well as to Local Authority Licensing and Planning Officers.

Sascha Blodau, General Manager of MERKUR UK hopes the Sustainability Report will help to inform decision-makers and address some of the misconceptions regarding the land-based gambling entertainment sector. He stated: “It’s only by documenting the support we provide locally, regionally and on a national level that we can help provide some balance and perspective to the narrative that’s being promoted in some quarters.

“On a national level MERKUR has invested in excess of £500m in the UK economy, we have created 2,500 jobs, raised more than £1.2m for charities and led the way with our 360 Program which is recognised for being the Gold Standard for safer gambling in the land-based low-stake, low-prize sector.

“I am proud that we have demonstrated how that successful commercial enterprises can also be good corporate citizens.

“All of our brands, including those which are not consumer-facing, have passed the audit of Social Responsibility practices undertaken by the internationally recognised G4 accreditation and certification body.

He added: “Outside of the gambling entertainment space we have supported 100 good causes all of which have been nominated by our venue teams, planted 25,000 trees, offset 2,000 tonnes of CO2e and contributed to help sustain a wind farm initiative in Sri Lanka.

“Our pledges for 2024 are to extend the mitigation measures with regard to our carbon footprint, continue to be audited by G4, uphold our commitment to ethical game design and to introduce in-venue Information Pods where players are able to access safer gambling help and advice.

Lee Willows confirmed: ‘It’s been a privilege to work with the MERKUR UK team to pull together what is their second Sustainability Report. The report itself paints a picture of both the reach and breadth of MERKUR UK’s approach to and impact of, their unwavering commitment to supporting charities and good causes across the United Kingdom. The report was also able to illuminate the impactful work of MERKUR UK colleagues and how the business is navigating the regulatory landscape and showcasing best practice.”

eSports

Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov is a New Virtus.pro Player

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Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov (pictured), one of the most decorated and famous players in CS2, a Major champion and winner of the Intel Grand Slam, is moving to Virtus.pro.

“The arrival of star players always generates excitement within the club and among its fans,” the Chief Executive Officer for Virtus.pro, Nikolai Petrossian, said. “Denis is a well-known figure in the world of eSports with an impressive list of major victories and exceptional skill. Few players won both at Major and Intel Grand Slam events.

“Our CS2 roster is strong thanks to teamwork, a clearly defined playstyle and the individual talents of our players. Transferring players with outstanding skills to improve specific areas is a common practice in sports. I am confident that Denis joining will give a powerful boost to the team in the upcoming challenges in Dallas, London and beyond.

“Denis will replace Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov in the VP lineup. Nikolay has been a loyal and valuable member of our team and we express our gratitude for his contributions. Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov is open to offers from other teams.”

“Virtus.pro is a top team,” Sharipov said. “The core of the roster has won a Major not a while ago and all the players are in their prime and ready for victories right now. We share the same ambitions and goals. Besides, I’m also excited about the idea of playing with Jame as he’s one of the most unique IGLs in the game. Can’t wait to adapt to my new team and start doing what I came here for, winning trophies.”

Sharipov has dozens of victories at elite tournaments, including:

  • PGL Major Stockholm 2021
  • Intel Grand Slam Season 3
  • BLAST Premier: Global Final 2020
  • IEM XVI – Cologne
  • EPL Season 14
  • BLAST Premier: World Final 2021

In addition, Sharipov was among the top-ten best players of the year by HLTV four times.

Updated Virtus.pro CS:GO roster:

  • Dzhami ‘Jame’ Ali (captain)
  • Evgeny ‘FL1T’ Lebedev
  • David ‘n0rb3r7’ Daniyelyan
  • Petr ‘fame’ Bolyshev
  • Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov
  • Dastan ‘dastan’ Akbayev (coach)
  • Pavel ‘PASHANOJ’ Legostaev (analyst)
  • Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov (substitute)
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Gaming

Sortium Revolutionizing Video Game Development with Groundbreaking AI Tools Launch and $4 Million+ Funding Round

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In a significant leap forward for the gaming and entertainment sectors, Sortium, a leader in the wave of generative AI within gaming, has launched innovative AI tools for artists and game developers, marking a new era of creativity and efficiency. These tools, leveraging the Polkadot infrastructure, are set to transform the gaming industry by enhancing the creative process, streamlining production workflows, and producing high-quality user-generated content.

This transformative step is supported by a successful funding round Sortium just closed, surpassing $4 million. The round was led by industry stalwarts such as Signum Growth, with significant contributions from a diverse array of investors, including Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment Management LLC, IDG Blockchain, IVC Fund, Polygon, and 1881 S Group AG. This wide-ranging support underscores the industry’s confidence in Sortium’s potential to revolutionize 3D video game design and entertainment production.

Sortium’s AI tools integrate seamlessly into existing game production ecosystems, automating challenging content creation tasks. This innovation enables studios to significantly speed up production times and reduce costs, allowing them to focus more on innovation and design while empowering users across any system to design their own characters, thereby opening new creative freedoms and revenue streams for developers and individual creators alike. Sortium’s team, with deep expertise in game development, AI, and IP rights management, ensures the smooth adoption of this technology.

According to Angela Dalton, CEO & Founder of Signum Growth, “The Sortium team’s technical capabilities are impressive. Perhaps even more importantly, they possess deep expertise, relationships and understanding across the traditional gaming industry. Generative AI is in its broader market experimentation phase, leading many to ignore IP rights in the spirit of progress and innovation. Sortium’s believes that IP rights will ultimately matter – baking them into the technology at the outset, and respecting artists’ work, are core tenets of the company that we fully support.”

Building on this foundation of technical excellence and ethical commitment, Sortium’s innovations also translate into tangible benefits for the gaming community.

“Sortium is leading the frontier of AI in gaming and creative applications. Sortium gives creatives unparalleled freedom in leading gaming environments like Unreal,” said Lex Avellino, Founder & CCO at Passage, one of Sortium’s partners. “The team is breaking technical barriers, and it adds a huge value for our consumer audiences who want to take advantage of the latest virtual tech but need to act with speed and simplicity.”

Sortium is actively forming partnerships with major intellectual properties and leading gaming platforms. A recent major collaboration with Bit Brawl, a game utilizing Sortium technology to deliver live content to over 5,000 users, showcases the versatile application of Sortium’s tools across various gaming environments. Its technology’s wide compatibility with leading development platforms ensures extensive adoption potential and effortless integration into professional industry practices. Sortium’s enterprise solutions, such as the LiveOps API, aim to enhance gaming experiences and enable continuous creativity through endless, tailored content generation.

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Gaming

Phoenix Games Expands Partnership with Warhammer Owner Games Workshop

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Phoenix Games and Games Workshop are continuing their cooperation on Warhammer Combat Cards and expanding their collaboration to work on more of Warhammer’s Universes.

Phoenix Games, a globally operating games company specialised in acquiring and enhancing game studios, is expanding its collaboration with the Warhammer brand. The partnership between both companies is built on the success of the mobile game Warhammer Combat Cards, which was developed by Phoenix Games’ studio Well Played Games for iOS and Android, delighting millions of players worldwide.

Thanks to the partnership, Phoenix Games is expanding its access to the rich universes of Warhammer, including Age of Sigmar, The Horus Heresy and The Old World, providing a foundation for the development of innovative game concepts to include in Warhammer Combat Cards. The objective of the collaboration is to transform the iconic miniatures of characters and factions into unique gaming experiences within Warhammer Combat Cards that will excite not only fans of Warhammer but also new players.

“Continuing and even expanding our partnership with Games Workshop is a logical step, as it unlocks numerous opportunities to create versatile gaming experiences based on globally beloved universes. We are very excited about the opportunity to enhance the Warhammer Combat Cards game with additional IPs and provide fans of the game with new content in the long term,” says Klaas Kersting, CEO of Phoenix Games.

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