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🎰 What happened in Vegas?

The Hustle

A woman who was once a YouTube rapper was arrested yesterday after laundering billions in bitcoin. (Now imagine reading that sentence anytime before ~2005.)

Also — sorry for the blunder — today is the final day to enter our $5k+ tech giveaway. Details below.

In today’s email:

  • Casino riches: A man left Vegas without realizing he’d won big.
  • Chart: The economics of Spotify.
  • Brewing battle: Instant delivery apps vs. bodegas.
  • Around the web: Chill games, temporary email addresses, ideas about ideas, and more cool finds.

🎧 Wanna dive deeper? Listen to today’s podcast. We’re talkin’ ugly shoes, Peloton drama, and the business of deep sea internet cables.

The big idea
slot machine

The house doesn’t always win

Sometimes, the house has to find you because you left your $229.3k jackpot behind.

In early January, Arizonian Robert Taylor played the slots at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. He hit the jackpot, but nobody knew it.

The problem was a communication error

He was playing a progressive slot machine. With these games, every time someone puts in money, a small percentage is added to the jackpot’s total.

There are 3 types of progressive machines:

  • Standalone
  • Local, which link multiple machines within a casino
  • Wide area network, which link even more machines across casinos and, therefore, have the biggest possible jackpots

Taylor was playing the latter, linked to machines as far away as New Jersey, James Taylor (no relation), chief of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Enforcement Division, told The Hustle.

Specifically, it was one themed after the 1994 Jim Carrey film, The Mask. (Smokin’!)

So, what happened?

The machines communicate with one another as the jackpot rises, but when the player struck gold, the machine malfunctioned and displayed an error message.

By the time Treasure Island figured out what happened, Robert Taylor was long gone.

So, the board — which typically conducts criminal and regulatory investigations — set out to track him down using what James Taylor called “good ol’ police work.”

Except not quite

The board’s Enforcement Division uses tactics like subpoenas when they’re looking for alleged wrongdoers, but this wasn’t that.

So instead, it used its regulatory authority to pore over surveillance footage, tracking the man around Vegas and hoping he’d use a player’s card or check into a hotel. No dice.

Finally, they spotted him getting into a rideshare vehicle. With help from the Nevada Transportation Authority, the board was able to contact the rideshare company, which agreed to inform the man.

How common is this?

It’s not. In fact, James Taylor said this is the 1st time it’s happened in his 28-year career.

It is, however, a very common scam Taylor deals with regularly (scammers call, tell you you’ve won big, but you need to pay taxes first).

If that happens to you, Taylor advises calling the board directly yourself.

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SNIPPETS

JCPenney has a new private-label men’s brand called Mutual Weave. It consists of workwear-inspired apparel. #ecommerce-retail

Space rocks: Defense contractor Lockheed Martin will build the rocket NASA will use to collect samples from Mars. #emerging-tech

2FA FTW: Last year, Google said it would turn on 2FA by default for 150m Google users and 2m YouTube creators. Among them, hacks have since decreased by 50%. #privacy

American Express launched its 1st digital checking account, catering to US consumers who love racking up rewards points. #fintech-crypto

Apple is reportedly boosting benefits for retail workers, including more paid sick and vacation days and parental leave for part-time employees. #big-tech

Now on MFM: Ryan Holiday on the economics of book publishing. #mfm

Chart
Spotify infographic

The economics of Spotify

Spotify now accounts for 20% of all recorded music revenue.

Yet, artists — from major stars to indie musicians — feel they aren’t getting their fair share of the pie.

As Sadie Dupuis, who’s accumulated 15m+ Spotify streams, told The Hustle, “I don’t know any artists who feel their career has been made better by Spotify.”

So how does Spotify function as a business? Why are artists so poorly compensated on the platform? And will Spotify survive if it continues to alienate them?

Read the full story →
Free Resource

A clean introduction to cryptocurrency

If you kind-of-but-don’t-really understand crypto, today’s the big day.

The next time you nod along, there will also be bona fide comprehension. This HubSpot video explains the growth of digital currencies along with the power of blockchain technology.

How cryptocurrency actually works (7-min video)

  • WTF is crypto and blockchain?
  • The most popular coins
  • The evolution of money
  • What is crypto mining?
  • 3 trusted crypto wallets
  • Transacting crypto (exchanges vs. P2P)
  • Basic blockchain use cases
  • JP Morgan gets on blockchain

Catch the crypto fast facts on YouTube, courtesy of HubSpot.

(Related guide: Curated recommendations of emerging tech podcasts, newsletters, blogs, and more.)

Crypto clarity →
Grocery Games
Gopuff

Bodegas vs. instant delivery apps, explained

If you’ve ever lived in a big city, then you likely have an affinity for bodegas — and their legendary sandwiches.

According to a recent report by CNBC, the rise of instant delivery startups – which can deliver groceries and goods in 15 minutes or less – could lead to a murky future for bodegas in New York City and beyond.

Startups like…

… Gopuff, Gorillas, and Jokr have expanded rapidly in NYC, and the influx has bodega owners worried for good reason:

  • The instant delivery sector raised $5.76B in VC funding in the 1st 10 months of 2021
  • Key players are willing to incur massive losses to gain market share
  • Critics say they’ve seen this story before with ride-sharing when Uber and Lyft took massive losses to grab market share from NYC taxis

Without the same ability to take losses, bodega owners worry the instant delivery winners could price them out of existence.

Zoning laws could be the answer

Many instant delivery startups run out of micro-fulfillment centers, AKA mini warehouses. (Gopuff is an exception and offers retail at its NYC locations.)

New York City officials haven’t made an official ruling on how to categorize these locations from a zoning perspective, and bodega owners are eagerly awaiting the verdict, because:

  • Bodegas often operate in residential and commercial districts.
  • In NYC, warehouses are usually categorized for either manufacturing or commercial use cases.

If micro-fulfillment centers are categorized as manufacturing, they won’t be allowed to operate in the same neighborhoods as bodega owners.

The bottom line: NYC’s decision could have massive implications for bodegas and their loyal patrons across the country.

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AROUND THE WEB

🎸 On this day: In 1964, ~73m Americans watched the Beatles’ US TV debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” They played “All My Lovin’,” “Til There Was You,” and “She Loves You.”

✉️ Useful: 10 Minute Mail gives you a temporary email address for when you’re trying to do something online that requires an email, but you don’t want to supply yours.

🧐 Cure boredom: Here’s a cute game. “Hidden Folks” is kind of like an interactive “Where’s Waldo?” Explore hand-drawn scenes to find characters.

🤔 That’s interesting: Journalist Oscar Schwartz contemplates the TED talk. What exactly is it? “And what happened to the future it envisioned?”

💡 How to: You’ve got a great idea. That’s awesome. But how do you get the right people to notice? And what’s a RACI matrix?

🤐 Haha: Not Another Channel is dedicated to resisting unnecessary Slack channels.

Quote of the day
Frank Sinatra quote

Just a reminder that Vegas success stories are few and far between (The Joker Is Wild, 1957)

Tech Giveaway
prizes

New Podcast: $5k Tech Giveaway

Want a shot at one of the prizes above?*

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Enter here for a chance to win.

Step 2: Follow The Hustle Daily Show on Apple / Spotify + send the magic referral link to your friends. Every friend that signs up through your link gives you 35 extra entries in the raffle (1 referral = 35 entries).

Step 3: Do your embarrassing little ritual and check if you’re one of the 8 winners after February 9th!

Follow the Podcast →

Prizes: Airpods Pro, Apple Watch Series 7, Fully Standing Desk, iPad Pro, Trends Lifetime Membership, iPhone 13, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro.

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States or D.C. 21 years and older. Ends 2/9/22, 11:59 pm ET. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, and prize descriptions, visit https://thehustle.co/podcast-tech-sweepstakes-rules/. Void where prohibited.

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Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

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