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Atlantic City's new Call of Duty: Dominate esports tourneys

Atlantic City's new Call Of Duty is this: To become the East Coast center of competitive video game tournaments, also known as esports.

The activity is rapidly growing in popularity across the country and around the world, and the New Jersey gambling resort wants to become a major player in the nearly $1 billion global market.

Proponents see it as a way for Atlantic City's nine casinos to add revenue and help endure the slow winter months. And in the hyper-competitive East Coast casino market, they also believe it can attract tourists whose interest in gambling is marginal or non-existent.

Isle of Man-based Continent 8 is building a $5 million data center at the Atlantic City Convention Center to serve not only the data-intensive esports industry, but internet gambling and sports betting technologies as well. It should be ready in April.

Two Atlantic City casinos held tournaments last year, and another will host an industry convention this weekend. And Stockton University is joining the Eastern College Athletic Conference's intercollegiate esports competition, building a room at its Galloway campus, near Atlantic City.

Gambling and technology companies believe esports is a natural progression in Atlantic City's ongoing diversification of its gambling market.

"The sky is the limit on this," said Barbara DeMarco, a spokeswoman for Continent 8. "Sports wagering is bringing in millennials, and this group likes to work off a mobile device. Do we catch that before someone else does?"

Esports is already well-established in the United States, and growing rapidly. In 2016, the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas built an esports lounge, hosted tournaments and, with bookmaker William Hill, took the first sports wager placed in Nevada on an esports tournament.

Major gambling companies including Casesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have invested in esports tournaments and facilities.

The market research firm Newzoo puts esports at a $905 million global market this year, predicting it will hit $1.4 billion by 2020. About 380 million people will watch at least one esports tournament this year, the company estimates.

"The first time I noticed esports was in the streets of Seoul, South Korea," said L. Anthony Gaud, president of Atlantic City-based INGAMEesports. "There was a giant crowd, and I asked someone, 'Is that a movie star or a rock star?' They said, 'No, it's a game player.' I had never seen anything like it in my life."

Internet gambling has been a steadily growing industry since Nov. 2013, and New Jersey launched sports betting in June after winning a U.S. Supreme Court case allowing it and other states to do so.

This weekend, the Ocean Resort Casino will host Gameacon, a convention with video game tournaments, networking sessions for game creators and artists, and sessions for fans to interact with developers.

The industry is also examining whether any laws or regulations can be changed to help spur the growth of esports in Atlantic City.

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Judges consider state court's power over Trump in lawsuit

Appeals court judges weighing President Donald Trump's bid to shut down a former "Apprentice" contestant's defamation suit against him are asking a hypothetical question: Could a New York court order the president to jail if he were to buck an order in the case?

The question came up — but wasn't definitively answered — as lawyers for Trump and ex-contestant Summer Zervos argued Thursday in a New York appeals court.

Zervos sued Trump for calling her a liar after she accused him of unwanted kissing and groping in two incidents in 2007. Trump's lawyers are trying to get the case dismissed or delayed until after his presidency.

Thursday's court session focused on one of the Trump legal team's central arguments: that a sitting president can't be sued in a state court over conduct outside official duties. It made for a discussion largely about Constitutional clauses and legal interpretation.

But state Supreme Court Appellate Division Justices Peter Tom and Angela Mazzarelli had some theoretical questions about practical matters: Could a president be taken to a city small-claims court? Or jailed by a state judge who could hold the commander-in-chief in contempt of court after an order was disregarded?

Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz suggested the contempt question helped prove his point.

"I think there is something really, really telling about that argument," he said.

Zervos' attorney, Mariann Wang, said it's unlikely the hypothetical scenario would ever happen and the Constitution doesn't shield a president from state court suits over non-official conduct.

"The president does not stand above the law. He is still a human being," she said.

The appeals panel peppered both sides with queries and, as is common, didn't immediately issue a decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that then-President Bill Clinton wasn't immune from a federal sexual harassment lawsuit concerning an alleged encounter with an Arkansas state employee while he was governor. But the high court didn't settle the question of whether a president could be sued in a state court over unofficial conduct.

During that suit, Clinton was held in contempt of court for providing what a federal judge said was misleading testimony during a deposition — a session of pre-trial questioning under oath. Clinton was fined more than $90,000.

Zervos, a California restaurateur, watched intently from the court audience, sitting forward in her seat while Wang argued her case. Outside court, Zervos didn't comment on the case but asked the public to contribute to a GoFundMe page to help pay her attorneys.

"They've worked very hard, and they haven't been paid up until this point," she said.

Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host. She says she met with him twice the next year, seeking career advice but getting unwelcomed kisses and groping.

According to her lawsuit, she didn't broach the encounters publicly for years because she thought they were isolated episodes of bad behavior by a businessman she admired. She went public with her allegation after an "Access Hollywood" recording emerged in October 2016 of Trump boasting about groping women.

Trump — by then the Republican presidential nominee — denied Zervos' claims and retweeted a message calling them "a hoax."

He also launched broadsides on Twitter and on rally stages against all the dozen-plus women who broached sexual misconduct claims against him around that same time, calling them "liars" peddling "totally made-up nonsense to steal the election," among other comments.

Zervos' lawyers say his comments were factual falsehoods that subjected her to threats and made her restaurant lose business. Trump's lawyers say his remarks were opinions that he had a free-speech right to express in the course of politics.

Zervos is seeking a retraction, an apology and compensatory and punitive damages. Like Trump, she is a Republican.

Both sides have continued gathering evidence while they await the appeals court's decision on whether the case can proceed, and they have been clashing over the scope of documents they should have to provide one another.

A Manhattan court is set to hear arguments on those issues next week.

'Love & Hip Hop' star Tommie Lee arrested for the second time in 48 hours

“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" star Tommie Lee was arrested for the second time in less than 48 hours Wednesday night.

WSB reported that Tommie Lee, whose real name is Atasha Chizaah Jefferson, was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking and obstruction of an officer.

>> Read more trending news 

According to police paperwork obtained by WSB, Jefferson was arrested at her home in Smyrna, Georgia, around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Lee was arrested at an area middle school after she allegedly assaulted one of her daughters. She was charged with felony aggravated assault, simple battery, first-degree child cruelty and disruption of public schools.

Related: 'Love & Hip Hop' star Tommie Lee arrested at daughter's middle school

Lee posted $27,000 bond Wednesday morning and got out of jail, but she violated her bond by making contact with the daughter she allegedly assaulted on Tuesday.

She allegedly refused to come to the door when police arrived. Instead, police said, she tried hiding in her attic.

Lee is being held in the Cobb County Jail without bond. She will remain in jail indefinitely. 

Lawsuit over fatal crash involving Berman's wife settled

A Connecticut restaurant accused of serving alcohol to the wife of ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman before she was killed in a car crash has settled a lawsuit filed by the family of an 87-year-old man who also died in the wreck.

The settlement involving The Market Place Kitchen and Bar in Woodbury and the family of Edward Bertulis was disclosed Wednesday in a filing in Torrington Superior Court. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Police said Katherine Berman's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit to drive when she rear-ended Bertulis' car in Woodbury in May 2017. Bertulis was on his way home after visiting his wife's grave.

A lawyer for the restaurant's owner said there is a confidentiality agreement and declined to comment Thursday.

Photos: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry tour Australia

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex began their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018.

Actor Bruce Willis sells central Idaho ranch for $5.5M

Actor Bruce Willis has sold his 20-acre (8-hectare) ranch in central Idaho for $5.5 million.

KTVB-TV reports in a story on Wednesday that's far below the original asking price of $15 million when the home was put up for sale in 2011.

Travis Jones is a listing agent with Engel & Volkers Sun Valley who took over the job of selling the home in the small town of Hailey two years ago.

Jones says the 8,400-square-foot (780-square-meter) main house has six bedrooms.

There's also a guesthouse, gym and outdoor heated pool with waterslides that were built after Willis bought the estate in 2003.

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Information from: KTVB-TV, http://www.ktvb.com/

'First Reformed' leads Gotham Awards nominees

Paul Schrader's religious thriller "First Reformed" is the leading nominee for the 28th annual Gotham Awards, including nods for best feature and best actor for star Ethan Hawke.

The Independent Filmmaker Project announced nominations for the 28th annual IFP Gotham Awards on Thursday.

The period drama "The Favourite" snagged two nominations and its actresses, Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, will receive a special jury prize for their performances.

The other nominees for best feature include: "If Beale Street Could Talk," ''Madeline's Madeline" and "The Rider."

Schrader was also nominated for best screenplay.

The hit Mr. Rogers film "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" was nominated for best documentary.

The awards will be handed out Nov. 26 in New York.

Rapper's motion for drug charge dismissal denied

A judge in South Dakota has denied a motion to dismiss a drug charge against rapper Chief Keef.

The rapper, whose legal name is Keith Cozart, was arrested in June 2017 at the Sioux Falls airport when drugs were found in his carry-on bag after he performed at the University of Sioux Falls. He later pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges for possessing marijuana, edibles and drug paraphernalia.

The Argus Leader reports that a Second Circuit Court judge last week denied Cozart's motion to dismiss a charge of possession of a controlled substance, saying the THC-infused edibles he was carrying are not considered marijuana under South Dakota law because they contained no plant material.

Chief Keef, a Chicago native, lives in Los Angeles.

'Love & Hip Hop' star Tommie Lee arrested at daughter's middle school

“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” star Tommie Lee was arrested Tuesday at her child's middle school in Smyrna, Georgia.

WSB obtained the arrest warrant for Lee, whose real name is Atasha Chizaah Jefferson.

>> Read more trending news 

Jefferson is accused of shoving her child’s head into a locker, among other things, at Griffin Middle School.

According to Smyrna police, Jefferson was charged with felony aggravated assault, simple battery, first-degree child cruelty and disruption of public schools.

WSB reported she posted $27,000 bond Wednesday morning and is out of jail.

Related: “Love & Hip Hop” star Erica Mena, boyfriend Clifford Dixon arrested

Jefferson has had several other run-ins with the law. She was arrested in July after police said she refused orders from officers and hit a valet on the head.

The valet didn't press charges, but Jefferson was charged with "disorderly under the influence" and booked at Atlanta City Detention Center.

Jefferson was also accused of attacking an Atlanta mall employee in February.

Country women lift each other up at CMT Artists of the Year

This one's for the girls, during a night when CMT honored all female stars, from Loretta Lynn to Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini, at their annual Artists of the Year show in an empowering night of lifting up each other.

Although female artists still struggle to get airplay, the women saluted each other for breaking through the barriers in the industry on Wednesday night in Nashville, Tennessee.

Underwood ended the show with a medley of iconic songs from Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" to Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!" supported by two all-female groups Runaway June and Maddie and Tae.

In her acceptance speech, Underwood told the women gathered in the room that they were the backbone of the industry.

"You are not here because you are women," Underwood said. "You are here because you are dang good."

Sissy Spacek, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Lynn in "Coal Miner's Daughter," said Lynn was a trailblazer whose honest lyrics made her unlike any other songwriter in the genre. Lynn, who is 86 and just released a new album, "Wouldn't It Be Great," last month, was unable to attend the show and Spacek accepted the honor on her behalf.

Spacek called her "my sister, my best friend" and teared up a bit on stage.

"She's just direct and authentic," Spacek told The Associated Press on the red carpet before the show. "She tells it like it is. She can say things that you and I couldn't say, or would be afraid to say."

Throughout the night, the country artists showed off their influences outside the genre with collaborations with artists from soul, gospel, Americana and more.

Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town sung "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and "I Can't Make You Love Me," with soul icon Gladys Knight. During the show, Fairchild pulled out her iPhone to list off about two dozen women in country music that deserved to get radio play.

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who performed with Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin, brought her 5-year-old daughter to the show, hoping to show her that women can be anything they want to be.

"She can dream as big and as far and wide as she can possibly can," Scott said prior to the show.

Maren Morris was joined by acclaimed singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile in a duet tribute to Aretha Franklin. Morris and her husband and singer Ryan Hurd both dismissed an oft-repeated claim that female country music fans don't want to listen to many women on country radio, which has often been used as an excuse to limit women on playlists and on radio.

"I don't think it's real," Morris said. "I don't think any woman has said out loud, at least to me, 'I don't like to listen to women.' I think that's so ridiculous."

Miranda Lambert performed with her group, the Pistol Annies, with Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe and said every day she recognizes what other women have done to help her.

"Not a day will go by that I don't honor and lift up women in this industry and want to work with them and collaborate because we have to be there for each other," Lambert said.

Kelsea Ballerini and Alison Krauss did a cover of "Ghost in This House." Ballerini said many women that she has looked up to have reached out their hands to her, including Shania Twain, Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift.

"What I have learned from this is to lift each other up, to support each other and to share our stage no matter how big or small it is," Ballerini said.

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Online:

http://www.cmt.com/artists-of-the-year

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Follow Kristin M. Hall at Twitter.com/kmhall

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This story corrects the title of Loretta Lynn's album and release date.

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