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No fairy-tale end for Disney’s metaverse division

Once upon a time in the not-so-magical kingdom of Disney, a small and plucky division was born, with dreams of exploring the great unknown – the mystical metaverse.

Alas, the kingdom’s rulers, faced with the need for some financial belt-tightening, have extinguished the tiny flame of this next-gen storytelling and consumer-experience team.

Indeed, the company’s dedicated metaverse division has been eliminated as reported in a Wall Street Journal exclusive last week.

At the helm of this valiant division stood Mike White, a knight of the realm with a background in Disney consumer products. His quest? To dive deep into Disney’s treasure trove of intellectual property and forge immersive tales in new technological realms. But, alas, the dream has crumbled.

Like the sad, squashed dreams of so many theme park churros, the entire 50-strong team now finds itself out of work. Yet, Sir Mike endures within the kingdom, with whispers on the wind about his mysterious new role.

In the before times, when Bob Chapek ruled as Disney’s chief executive, he welcomed Mike White to the land in February 2022 with high hopes. Chapek envisioned the metaverse as “the next great storytelling frontier” and tasked his new recruit to “create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories.”

Yet, as the throne passed to Robert Iger in November, the sands of time wore on, and Disney’s metaverse strategy remained as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Sketches of grand plans hinted at wondrous applications in the realm of fantasy sports, enchanted theme park attractions, and other consumer delights.

But, as the sun sets on the once-promising metaverse division, we can only lament what could have been – a world where the dreams of Disney fans young and old could soar like a majestic, technologically advanced Dumbo.

The roulette record-breaker

Bloomberg set the scene beautifully this week in a long-read called: The gambler who beat roulette.

Your interest has surely been piqued, and rightly so.

This fascinating article tells the story of Niko Tosa, a tall and thin Croatian man with rimless glasses that seemingly defeated London’s Ritz Club casino in the early noughties.

As you know with hot copy, we usually try and rewrite a previously published story in our own words, as a mini tribute to our media colleagues if you will.

But honestly, nothing we could say would do this article justice, so we strongly suggest you click the link and have a read for yourselves. It also looks fantastic on the page. Enjoy!

High stakes politics

The gambling sector has bet big on MPs, having increased their lobbying spend tenfold over five years, as revealed this week by The Guardian’s detective work.

Public records show that many Labour and Conservative MPs have had their pockets lined with corporate treats worth thousands of pounds, all thanks to some of the nation’s most extravagant wager-wizards.

The news comes just days after Conservative MP Scott Benton was caught on camera offering to break parliamentary rules to further the interests of gambling industry investors.

Plenty of cash has been splashed, mainly on sports tickets for MPs, and these numbers are likely just the tip of the iceberg according to The Guardian as gifts under £300 fly under the radar.

This cash-crazed bonanza has some parliamentary peeps worried about the growing influence of the industry.

Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East and a crusader for gambling reform, points out that the industry’s deep pockets are painfully obvious around parliament.

According to Harris, a trip to the bar will likely have you bumping into someone from the gambling world, buying drinks for everyone.

She said they persuade MPs with exclusive invites to events like the Brit Awards or Manchester United matches.

Ultimately, she says, the industry is scared of regulation. And with the white paper review set to be published in the coming days, who can blame them?

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