By Walt Hickey
It’s a golden age of tabletop gaming, with the North American market for role-playing games, boards, dice, and miniatures reaching $1.5 billion last year, with forecasters projecting it could hit $12 billion by 2023. As a person literally writing this moments before heading to a D&D game, and who made the financially perilous decision of purchasing a modestly pricey custom miniature the week before the risky big boss fight against the Black Spider, that eight-fold increase in a few years seems about right. Lots of that is fueled by crowdfunding, with Kickstarter reporting $165 million in funds raised by tabletop games in 2018. One major behind-the-scenes player in the board gaming business is Asmodee, whose catalog includes Catan and 7 Wonders and whose revenues grew from $140 million to $495 million from 2014 to 2018 culminating in a $1 billion sale last year.
Amir Massihzadeh was one of three winners to a $4.8 million Colorado Lotto jackpot in 2005, or so he thought. Turns out the other two were later determined to be linked to a scheme to rig lotteries across state lines meaning that the $568,990 that Massizadeh accepted (after taxes) was a significant short in the grand scheme of things. Colorado refused to award the full jackpot, setting off a thrilling legal battle where obviously the little guy was easily crushed underfoot by the state-sanctioned gambling behemoth, as the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled last week the lotto is protected from any liability after the payment of winnings.
Federal agents wiped out a theft ring of 21 co-conspirators that stole used cooking oil, which is a serious business. Restaurants sell their used oils to buyers who then recycle the grease into biofuel, animal feed or cosmetics. This ring was alleged to be behind a $3.9 million cooking oil heist. A 100-pound load of yellow grease is worth $25 according to USDA data, and the indictment said the thieves robbed the storage tanks out back of restaurants in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia over the past five years for sale across the country. The oil rendering business loses between $45 million and $75 million to theft annually.
Baby Fish Do Do Do Do Do Do
A new study published in Science set out to find the birth places of over 700 species of commercially harvested fish in 249 national fishing grounds. That’s about 90 percent of the annual catch. The researchers found that in 114 of those territories more than 1,000 tons of the catch spawned elsewhere, and some nation’s enormous amounts of fish are born in another nation’s territorial waters, like Russia and South Korea, who both catch over 1 million tons of fish born somewhere else. This matters because if spawning hubs off of one country, they are responsible for enormous parts of the fishing haul of other countries. Policies and pollution that jeopardize those larvae can have international impacts. More than $10 billion of fish globally are caught outside the territory where they spawned.
Researchers dropped 17,000 wallets in cities around the world, and not just because they were drunk and it was 2 a.m. and the bar was tossing them out, but because they wanted to gauge how honest people were. Of the wallets with no money inside of them, 46 percent were reported and directed back to their “owner.” Having money inside the wallets greatly increased the likelihood of their return, with 61 percent of wallets containing the equivalent of $13 returned and 72 percent of those stuffed with about $100 making their way back home. I should probably carry more cash is what I’m now realizing.
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Japan’s fertility rate has plateaued to about 1.43, meaning that couples (by definition two people) are producing fewer of the next generation needed to replace them. Projections from Japan’s government estimate their population could fall from 127 million people to less than 100 million by 2049 and 82 million by 2065. Japan is now investing in subsidized childcare and education and has introduced free preschool, but some Japanese towns are going to greater lengths. One town increased their fertility rate from 1.4 to 1.9 by offering new moms the equivalent of about $2,785.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the increasing legalization of marijuana is CBD, an oil produced by the plant that doesn’t get you high but has some purported but totally untested health benefits. On the scale of medical efficacy that spans from “snake oil” to “penicillin,” I’d generally put it near like “electrolytes” and other stuff that may very well not actually do anything but hey, can’t hurt? And that is a great-if-vague sector to be in, as CBD products had $1.9 billion in sales in 2018. All told, 24 percent of adults said they’d sampled a CBD product. Still, worth highlighting is that like most commercialized wellness goo, people don’t totally know what CBD is: Morning Consult found that while 40 percent knew CBD and marijuana were different, 32 percent thought it was basically similar to marijuana, and 28 percent didn’t know.
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