Welcome To The Vice Age: How Sex, Drugs And Gambling Help Americans Cope With Covid

The pandemic caused millions to lean in to good old-fashioned bad behavior. Two years later, business has never been better for cannabis, gaming and porn—and the high times are here to stay.


On March 13, 2020, everything changed for Doug, a 35-year-old manager at a supply chain logistics company in Chicago. He was told his offices were closed until further notice. Then the stock market took a dive, his 401K plunged, and several family members fell ill with Covid-19. As a father of four, in a house he recently bought, he was afraid for his family’s future.

For Doug, the glass of wine he usually had every night to unwind turned into a whole bottle. “My alcohol consumption turned into a seven-day affair,” he says. He’d usually top it off with some THC-infused gummies. And when sporting events returned, gambling helped him assuage his fear of an uncertain future.

Doug was not alone. As stay-at-home orders swept across the country in March 2020, Americans got high, got drunk, and turned to porn in order to cope with the many fears and anxieties that were symptomatic of the pandemic. Alcohol sales in 13 states surged more than 10% that first month of lockdown while wine sales jumped nearly 9%, according to a study conducted by the University of Buffalo. The number of cigarettes sold in the U.S. also increased in 2020, the first time in 20 years, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Cigarette Report.

Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, saw more of his patients turn to drugs and alcohol to “blot out reality” after the start of the pandemic than the years before.

“In a perfect world, when under stress, we do yoga, eat tofu, exercise, talk to our best friend, but in reality, most of us rely on some kind of substance,” says Grinspoon, who has specialized in medical cannabis for more than 25 years. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that while people are home, bored and lonely they’re going to drink and get high.”

Covid Lows, Cannabis Highs

As the pandemic took an unimaginable toll on thousands of lives a day and brought the global economy to a standstill, it also helped legitimize the legal marijuana industry. With lockdowns rolling across the country in March 2020, many states deemed cannabis dispensaries “essential businesses,” meaning they could stay open along with pharmacies, grocers and liquor stores.

Cannabis sales in Washington state rose 9% over the same month in 2019 to $99 million while in California, weed sales grew by 53% over March 2019 to $276 million. Several months later, on Election Day 2020, five states passed marijuana legalization laws. Overall, the legal cannabis industry had a sky-high year in 2020: legal sales surpassed $17.5 billion, a 46% increase in sales over pre-pandemic 2019.

With Covid attacking respiratory systems, many longtime pot smokers made the switch to edibles. According to Headset, the Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm, sales of edibles grew by 54% across six states—California, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington—during 2020.


Cannabis Laws By State


“In a lot of ways, Covid accelerated the cannabis industry 10 years,” says Aaron Morris, the co-founder of Clackamas, Oregon-based edibles manufacturer Wyld. “It legitimized it in a way as a mainstream coping mechanism along with alcohol.” For Wyld, one of the country’s best-selling edibles brands, the pandemic put the company into overdrive. “Sales got crazy,” says Morris. “It was like toilet paper—edibles flew off the shelves.”

Morris says the pandemic spiked Wyld sales by 20%, but the uptick never slowed. Instead, sales were “boosted permanently,” he says. As a new normal took hold, the only fluctuations Wyld saw in sales were when stimulus checks went out. “Every time the government sent out checks, sales went on steroids for 30 days,” says Morris.

In 2019, Wyld generated $25 million in sales and by the end of 2020, it sold $64 million of its natural fruit gummies. By the end of last year, the company nearly topped $110 million in sales.

Morris is obviously pleased with how the company performed, but not surprised. “Everyone loves cannabis, everyone’s at home, you aren’t socializing, so what are you going to do on a Tuesday night or a Friday night?” says Morris. “Everyone just got lit.”


Higher and Higher

Annual state cannabis sales have grown rapidly and consistently since 2019.


In the United States, annual cannabis sales hit $25 billion in 2021, a 43% increase over 2020. Sales in Florida, where only medical marijuana is legal, and sales in Illinois, which has both medical and adult-use, jumped 70% from 2020 to 2021. In Massachusetts, sales increased 85% during the same period.

Despite the growth of edibles, marijuana flower sales didn’t slow down either. For Emily Paxhia, cofounder of cannabis investment fund Poseidon, what sticks out to her from the past two years is the rise in pre-roll sales. Joint sales shot up 47% from April 2020 to October 2021 in California, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Paxhia believes a touch of nihilism is driving this statistic. “I think the pandemic shortened the timeline of how we view and how we live our lives to be focused on today, tomorrow versus what’s happening in five to 10 years,” she says. “Why not just live now and live well now?”

Betting Against Covid

The start of the pandemic hit the gaming industry hard, and as travel restrictions expanded globally, Covid looked like a losing proposition for the house. Casinos across the U.S. shuttered for months due to stay-at-home orders. In Nevada, the country’s gambling mecca, gross gaming revenue dropped from $12 billion in 2019 to $7.8 billion in 2020.

But when vaccines became available and Covid restrictions eased, Americans flocked to Sin City and regional state casinos as gambling became a way for the country to let loose after the height of the pandemic. By the end of 2021, Nevada reported a 10-month winning streak of more than $1 billion in monthly gambling revenue and an annual record of $13.4 billion, an 11.6% increase over pre-pandemic levels.

“People were cooped up for, depending on their risk tolerance, six months to two years,” says Colin Mansfield, an analyst who covers gaming and leisure at Fitch Ratings. “There was a time when there was not much to do from an entertainment perspective except go to a casino. After the shutdown people wanted to go out and have a good time and spend some money.”


The Money Lines

Annual state gambling revenue has recovered from the pandemic thanks to pent-up demand and the rise in mobile betting and iGaming.


And as states were eager for more tax revenue, many pushed through laws to get mobile sports betting programs off the ground. In 2018, there were eight states with legal sports betting and by the end of 2021, 31 states had legal markets with 18 launching mobile sports gambling.

New York, which launched its mobile sports betting program in early January 2022, surpassed $1 billion in wagers in the first two weeks of legalization, double the amount sportsbooks took in on The Las Vegas Strip in all of December. By the last week of February, New York bettors had wagered a total of $3.1 billion since the program launched, translating into $204.6 million in gross gaming revenue and $104.3 million in tax revenue.

Mansfield says the pandemic gambling boom is far from over. The industry is growing as more states are legalizing sports betting and the broader casino market is also expanding. “We’re not forecasting any strong pullback in gaming revenues,” he says. “People like to gamble. I don’t think that’s really going away at all.”

Over time, gambling has made the leap from a vice that cities and states wanted to hide on riverboats and away from big cities to placing it in the center of major entertainment districts. The combination of the pandemic and the expansion of mobile sports betting brought gambling to the “mainstream conversation,” says Mansfield. “You can’t watch a game anymore without hearing about gambling.”

Gaming may be on a serious roll right now, but few are thinking about the long-term consequences. Bill Krackomberger, a veteran professional sports gambler, grew up in the seedier edges of the industry among loan sharks and underground bookies. Legalization of sports betting is a good thing, no doubt, but Krackomberger feels uneasy about how quickly an addictive pastime has gone mainstream.

“We’re going to see a fallout in about 10 years, not just among regular degenerates,” says Krackomberger. “I’m talking with doctors, lawyers, professionals, Wall Street guys, you’ll see—you won’t be able to get into a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.”


Legal Sports Betting in the the U.S.


Porn This Way

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Maya Morena, an adult film performer and sex worker living in New York, knew she had to stop meeting clients. The respectable and polite ones disappeared, and it seemed like the only johns willing to pay for sex and risk getting Covid were the “scummy ones.” So, Morena, like millions of other workers in America, started doing business online—she began treating her OnlyFans page like a full-time job.

By the end of that first month, Morena says she made $4,800 producing and selling erotic videos on the U.K.-based streaming platform best known as the billion-dollar tech company that porn built. By January 2021, Morena, who is originally from Honduras, was making $6,000 a month on OnlyFans. As the pandemic wore on and she advertised her page and recruited new customers, she saw her business boom again. By September of last year, she hit $12,000 for the month.

Of course, the idea that anyone can launch an OnlyFans page and start reeling in money by showing a little skin is a lie, Morena says. It requires a lot of hard work. The number of paying users and content creators joining adult streaming platforms like OnlyFans, FanCentro, IsMyGirl, ManyVids, and others, is exploding but only the most dedicated creators can make a living. “It’s a thriving economy that’s ruthlessly competitive,” says Morena.

For OnlyFans, the pandemic helped it become one of the biggest social media platforms seemingly overnight with more than 180 million users and more than 2 million content creators who have earned a collective $5 billion by selling subscriptions to content. In 2019, it had 348,000 creators and 13.5 million users. In 2020, OnlyFans grew revenue by 540%, hitting $400 million.

The popularity of OnlyFans, which has attracted a diverse group of creators from a former pastor to porn stars like Sophie Dee to celebrities like Cardi B, has given birth to a whole new adult-rated streaming economy.


Naked Ambition

Since 2019, the number of content creators on OnlyFans has increased nearly sixfold, while the number of users has expanded by a factor of 13.


Evan Seinfeld, the Brooklyn-born second cousin of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who launched the online adult content platform IsMyGirl in 2017, says the pandemic turbocharged his business. In 2019, Seinfeld had 500,000 users on his platform and 8,000 creators. By the end of 2020, 25,000 creators signed up and 1.5 million users joined. Today, the site hosts 2.5 million users and 50,000 creators, who collectively make millions of dollars a month.

“Everybody’s business is booming and growing,” says Seinfeld. “When people are alone in the house, people crave stimulus, they crave stimulation, they crave sexual excitement.”

While many sex workers and performers may have first joined a site out of desperation, he says, many eventually realized that selling erotic content to lonesome people stuck at home was a sustainable business.

Adds Seinfeld: “A lot of people needed a pandemic to realize that people who aren’t paying your bills don’t really have a right to have an opinion about how you earn your living.”

Or enjoy life.

Two years into the pandemic, Doug from Chicago is doing better financially—no other industry was in more demand than supply chain logistics—but he held onto some of his new vices, which he describes as “comforts.” Before the pandemic, he was trying to live a healthier life and moderate his food, drug, and alcohol intake. But his perspective has changed—happiness, not moderation, is part of his new approach.

“I’m enjoying the comfortability of my life,” says Doug. “Does it come with a few asterisks? Yes. But we’re not going to live forever.”

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I am a staff writer on the vices beat, covering cannabis, gambling and more. I believe in the many virtues of vices. Previously at Forbes, I covered the world’s richest people as a member….

Source: Welcome To The Vice Age: How Sex, Drugs And Gambling Help Americans Cope With Covid

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Cybercrime Joker Retires With A Reported $2.1 Billion In Bitcoin

The most popular stolen payment card marketplace on the dark web is no more. The criminal behind the Joker’s Stash site, which trades in stolen credit and debit card data, has announced that all servers and backups will be wiped, and the site will never open again. That criminal, who unsurprisingly goes by the pseudonym of ‘JokerStash’ or Joker for short, has shut up shop and is going into retirement. A rather comfortable retirement, assuming Interpol and the FBI don’t catch up with them, with a reported $2.1 billion (£1.5 billion) in Bitcoin.

Joker’s Stash was the biggest of the carding sites on the dark web. Carding being the process of not just selling that stolen card data, but also enabling criminals to launder their illicit cryptocurrency balances. The stolen card data is used to buy gift cards or other easily traded items which are then sold on for cash. In 2019, I reported how a single payment card database, of more than a million market fresh cards in total, was being offered for sale at $130 million (£93 million.)

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In a January dark web blog posting, the Joker warned customers of the infamous carding site that it would shut up shop for good on February 15. However, according to financial crime compliance blockchain analysis specialists Elliptic, the site went down on February 3.

As you might imagine, this will not have pleased those customers who thought they had 12 more days to cash out their crypto balances. Although it hasn’t been possible to determine exactly how much money these cyber-criminals may have lost, the reverse is not true: Elliptic analysts have calculated the size of the Joker’s retirement pot based on incoming crypto payments to the Joker’s Stash wallet. MORE FOR YOU

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How big a pension has Joker built up through this criminal enterprise since it started operating in 2014? Elliptic said that, in 2018 alone, $139 million (£100 million) in sales went through Joker’s Stash, by way of example. More recently, revenues dropped significantly as payment card fraud detection technology improved. However, more than $400 million (£288 million) flowed through the site between 2015 and 2021.

Joker’s Stash made its money by charging deposit fees for converting Bitcoin to a dollar balance and also through taking a commission on all trading in stolen cards. Although that commission rate cannot be pinned down precisely, Elliptic analysts based their calculations on an average of 20% as seen at other carding operations.

“If we assume an average total commission of 20% on sales,” Elliptic wrote, “then considering bitcoin alone they would have taken a total of at least 60,000 bitcoins.”

Or, to put it another way, around $2.1 billion (£1.5 billion) currently.

Which leaves the departing statement from the Joker with the irony volume turned up to eleven. After telling cyber-gangsters not to “lose themselves in the pursuit of money,” the Joker went on to declare that “all the money in the world will never make you happy and the “most truly valuable things in this life are free.”

That’s easy to say when you have so much cash, regardless of how you came by it.

Maybe the pandemic played a role in both the site closure decision and that display of sentiment. In October 2020, Joker disclosed to customers that he, or she, had been in hospital for a week after contracting Covid-19.

Whatever, Joker’s Stash is no more and that’s a good thing for the law-abiding majority. Unfortunately, the way of the dark web world is that another carding site will soon rise to take over as the crypto kingpin of this illicit trade. Although this particular cybercrime genre has dipped in terms of profitability over the last couple of years, there is still, sadly, plenty of money to be made. Maybe not as much as the Joker’s Stash, but more than enough to make a mockery of the old saying that crime doesn’t pay. Especially as it would seem, based on current intelligence at least, that the site wasn’t busted by law enforcement but closed of its own volition. The last laugh would seem to be with the Joker.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Davey Winder

Davey Winder

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

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Super Mario Bros35 Turns the Classic Platformer Into a Battle Royale

In a surprise Nintendo Direct presentation this morning, Nintendo announced a slew of games celebrating Mario’s 35th birthday. One of the most intriguing things on the menu is Super Mario Bros. 35, a battle royale-style reimagining of the original Super Mario Bros. game. As the name suggests, 35 players battle to be the last one standing.

Judging from a piece of key art from the game, it looks like each player will run through a level and defeating enemies sends them to another player’s level, something that could get pretty overwhelming and completely change the way you attack a given level. Naturally, there are special items that can help you along the way, as well.

Like the Tetris 99 battle royale game Nintendo released last yearSuper Mario Bros. 35 doesn’t cost anything to play, but you do need a subscription to Nintendo’s Switch Online service. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long to see how this all plays out, as Nintendo says the game will launch today.

Related: How to Become a Successful Gaming Entrepreneur

Switch Online subscribers are getting another nice piece of Mario content today, as well. The original Super Mario All-Stars for the Super NES is coming to the Switch Online library of classic games. This game included 16-bit remasters of the original three Mario games for the NES, as well as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels.

That last title is the direct sequel to the original Super Mario Bros. but ramps up the difficulty significantly. If you want a platforming challenge, this game will certainly test your skills. It’ll be a good companion to the just-announced Super Mario 3D All Stars,which collects three of the best-known 3D Mario adventures.

By: Nathan Ingraham – Senior Editor at Engadget

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Crypto Gaming Pioneer Cloudbet Launches New Website with a Host of New Features

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Bitcoin Press Release: Leading Bitcoin casino and sportsbook Cloudbet has unveiled its impressive new website. The updated site offers a slew of new advancements including faster load times, new language options, live eSports betting, and more. 

28th April 2020, Curacao – Bitcoin sportsbook and casino Cloudbet has launched a new feature-packed website, in its most ambitious makeover since the crypto-gaming pioneer opened for business in 2013. Cloudbet recently invited its players to experience the Beta version of its next-generation service, which offers a vastly improved betting experience and new markets including esports.

Based on customer feedback, Cloudbet have continued to make improvements and launched the Beta as the new Cloudbet.com earlier this month. The site offers a slew of great improvements, including:

  • Faster load times on mobile devices
  • A Quick-bet slip that allows players to place bets in two taps
  • Live-streamed esports betting on 60+ markets including CS:GO, LoL, Dota 2
  • New language options, including Italian, Spanish and German
  • Betting in Ethereum (more new coins coming soon)
  • On-site bitcoin purchases
  • Improved, intuitive navigation and user interface

A Cloudbet spokesman had these words to say about the new update;

“We’ve set out to build the most impressive betting service the world has ever seen,It provides the foundation for the exciting new products and features that the industry will see in the coming years.” 

Cloudbet will continue to operate its old site at legacy.cloudbet.com until players are comfortable with the new service. The current site will eventually be retired, marking a step change in the enduring legacy of one of the world’s oldest bitcoin sportsbooks, and casinos.

On both sites, Cloudbet continues to offer the high limits and low margins for which its sportsbook is renowned, and customers can wager on hundreds of casino games from slots to poker, baccarat and roulette from top-of-the-line studios.

About Cloudbet 

Established in 2013, Cloudbet is one of the world’s leading bitcoin sportsbooks and casinos,  Cloudbet was one of the first operators to recognize the huge potential for bitcoin to alleviate customers’ pain points with faster, secure and private transactions. In keeping with its mission to create the best betting experience for customers, Cloudbet offers the best odds and unrivalled bitcoin betting limits, while new players also receive a generous 100% deposit bonus up to 5BTC/BCH/ETH. 

Join Cloudbet today and get your 100% deposit bonus today –https://www.cloudbet.com
Follow us on Twitter for latest news and promotions –https://www.twitter.com/cloudbet
Join the community on Bitcointalk – https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=333552.0
Check out the official Cloudbet Discord – https://discord.gg/mpFcHWW

Media Contact
Contact Name: Camilla Wright
Contact Email: camilla@redknotcomms.com

Cloudbet is the source of this content. Virtual currency is not legal tender, is not backed by the government, and accounts and value balances are not subject to consumer protections. Cryptocurrencies and tokens are extremely volatile. There is no guarantee of a stable value, or of any value at all.

By Bitcoin News PR

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Welcome Bonus Upto 5 BTC: http://bit.ly/CloudBet_Welcome_Bonus CloudBet wasn’t a bad choice at all, somehow a lot of thread accused CloudBet as scam but somehow they were resolved and paid. One of the biggest accused was 330 BTC which sounds fishy to me was it real after all? Resolved and paid to the winner accordingly too. Weird.

FreeBitco.in – The New Easy & Free Way of Home Jackpot Casino Playing & Business

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Bitcoin gambling is one of the fastest growing niches in the online gambling industry. In the past five years or so, many online casinos, poker rooms, and sports betting platforms have opened their doors to various cryptocurrencies, but mainly to Bitcoin. The father of all altcoins is not just the biggest digital currency right now, but also the most widespread one. While Dogecoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum gambling operators do exist, they are few and far between when compared to platforms that accept Bitcoin.

In fact, Bitcoin gambling sites have attracted the mainstream attention. This has resulted in a massive influx of players to Bitcoin casinos, further popularizing crypto gambling. However, this has brought both good and bad things to the industry. Of course, the good one is that gamblers have a wide selection of BTC gambling sites to choose from. But the bad thing is that some of them are outright frauds, offering rigged games and stopping players from withdrawing funds.

Furthermore, because BTC gambling is a relatively new industry and there aren’t many Bitcoin casino reviews, making out good ones from the bad ones can be challenging. It’s easy to discover if a regular online casino is legitimate or not because they have been operating for decades and thousands of gamblers have shared their opinions about them. But when a casino has been online for just a couple of years and on top of that comes from an unregulated industry as many Bitcoin casinos do, then it isn’t as easy.

Image result for freebitco.in review

FREEBITCO.IN is a free bitcoin faucet founded in 2013 in the British Virgin Islands, 2 years before Bonus Bitcoin. And it now boasts over 15 million regular users. And if you wonder how much bitcoin the website has shelled out since its creation, it’s way over 145,000 BTC now… The bitcoin price always fluctuates, so I won’t give you an equivalent in dollars. But that’s a lot of cryptos, trust me! And you can always track this in their Stats, that are available to all. No wonder it’s in the top of my bitcoin faucet list.

Their faucet is called Free BTC. And you don’t need to claim bitcoins or solve captchas here. You need to roll the dice! And the amount of bitcoins you get depends on the number you rolled. But you can play only one time every hour.

While it was originally a simple bitcoin faucet, FREEBITCO.IN has evolved every now and then over the years. Indeed, users can now access several new tabs from their area. Particularly popular is their Multiply BTC feature, where you can play a provably fair HI-LO game. Basically, you can gamble with your hard-earned bitcoin to try and multiply them by up to 4,750 times!

And if you like to play the lottery, FREEBITCO.IN has something for you: You can participate in their weekly lottery draw and win big prizes! While you can buy lottery tickets, you’ll receive 2 free lottery tickets for every Free BTC roll you play.

Maybe a word on their latest addition, the Earn BTC feature, which allows users to receive daily interests on the balance of their FREEBITCO.IN account. Once you’ve reached a balance of 30,000 satoshis (0.0003 BTC), they’ll automatically pay you compound interests. Every. Day. Without doing anything.

Image result for freebitco.in review

How to earn on FREEBITCO.IN?

First of all, you need to sign up to be able to play – that’s mandatory (but you can easily remain anonymous). And all you have to do is fill your email address and a password. Then solve the captcha and click on Sign Up! And that’s it, you can start rolling.

There are many ways to get free bitcoins on the website, as you can guess from my little presentation. While the faucet is always a classic, I’d recommend you to focus on their gambling page: Multiply BTC. Because you can play more often. And that’s where you can really increase your earnings. Just play with the settings to optimize your chances of winning.

Also, I’d recommend to always keep a balance of at least 30,000 satoshis, to earn interests on a daily basis. While it’s not much, you can earn a passive income from this. And it’s much easier than rolling anything – you have nothing to do!

Finally, you can take a look at their referral program. Because you can get commissions when you refer new users to FREEBITCO.IN! And you could get more passive income from their own activity.

Is FREEBITCO.IN legit?

There aren’t many details about the company and its team. But everything’s working as advertised on the website. And you can easily withdraw your earnings. – it may take up to 24 hours for the bitcoins to appear in your wallet. But you’ll get an email with the transaction ID to verify everything’s OK.

So that’s what you would expect from a respectable company. While things can always evolve quickly online, I can vouch for this faucet, like millions of other users. And this is, without doubt, a bitcoin faucet to keep in your portfolio in 2019. While the payout is not that high, it allows you to get bitcoins if you have extra time on your hands.
Conclusion

You’ve reached the end of my FREEBITCO.IN review. And I hope you’ve found the answers to all your questions. For me, you’ve got here a legitimate earning opportunity in 2019. So you can sign up now and spend some time on the platform without the risk of wasting it. Because the platform delivers, unlike many others. And if you’ve enjoyed FreeBitco.in, check out my Cointiply review: It’s another great faucet to make money online.

Even though we always recommend doing the research yourself, in this situation that would be almost impossible. Researching all these features and for hundreds of different casinos is time-consuming, to put it mildly. So, to help you out, below you will find a the best Bitcoin gambling site.

Source: https://freebitco.in

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