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- WallStreetBets, the popular subreddit sometimes described as the “Wild West of investing advice,” is hosting a live trading competition in October.
- The event, which will take place October 28-30 in Arlington, Texas, and also streamed on pay-per-view, will have 12 contestants competing to get the best returns, or be the last one standing, using only stock options.
- Jaime Rogozinski, WallStreetBets’ founder, told Business Insider the event is looking to mirror the success esports has seen in recent years.
- WallStreetBets has a sizable following with over 1 million subscribers to its page. The subreddit surpassed 121 million pageviews only halfway through March, according to Rogozinski.
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A notorious online investing forum is making a big bet of its own.
WallStreetBets, a popular Reddit community often categorized as the “Wild West of investing advice,” is hosting and streaming a live trading competition in the hope of mirroring the success of the wildly popular esports industry.
Twelve yet-to-be-determined contestants will put up a set amount of their own money to see who gets the best returns — or is the last one standing — using only stock options over the course of three days. The winner of the competition, which will be held October 28-30 in Arlington, Texas, will receive “a significant amount of money” as a prize, Jaime Rogozinski, WallStreetBets’ founder, told Business Insider.
Rogozinski, who created the subreddit in 2012, said hosting a live event seemed like the logical next step considering how successful the video game industry has been at holding events, along with the gamification of trading thanks to sleek, user-friendly trading apps such as Robinhood.
“Basically it’s the merging of esports along with this day-trading tendency with finance and more specifically the type of trading you see on WallStreetBets,” he said. “It feels like it’s a natural progression.”
Esports has turned into big business in recent years, with some estimates suggesting revenues could surpass $1.5 billion by 2023. And while the spread of coronavirus has tempered some expectations for 2020, there is no denying the growth of the market. In November, nearly 100 million people tuned in to watch the “League of Legends” World Championship.
Rogozinski has built a rabid following in WallStreetBets. The subreddit has over a million subscribers. And while recent market conditions might have scared some investors away, the extreme volatility seen in recent weeks has only bolstered the subreddit’s activity.
According to Rogozinski, WallStreetBets reached 121 million pageviews only halfway through March. By way of comparison, in February, WallStreetBets hit 59 million pageviews, and had 38 million in January.
Options trading Rogozinski say the aggressive trading on WallStreetBets is no different from what takes place on Wall Street
To be sure, WallStreetBets is not for the faint of heart. Once described as “like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal” — a phrase the subreddit adopted as its tagline for a time — the page is chock-full of obscenities and vulgar humor.
But it’s not all off-color jokes. The community has shown some real ingenuity, most recently discovering a glitch in popular app Robinhood — the most cited brokerage on the subreddit —that users said gave them infinite leverage.
Rogozinski said criticism of WallStreetBets for the type of aggressive trading it promotes is hypocritical when considering how Wall Street operates. He pointed to examples such as the London Whale, the JPMorgan trader who lost over $6 billion dollars in 2012, or the Morgan Stanley foreign-exchange traders that reportedly lost between $100 million and $140 million last fall.
“On WallStreetBets they do it from their cell phones using their Robinhood account. The guys that are on Wall Street, they do it too. They use bigger accounts,” Rogozinski said. “WallStreetBets gets a bad rap because they don’t try and hide it, and they’re not ashamed of it.”
The venue for the event, Esports Stadium Arlington, is the largest dedicated esports facility in North America with a capacity of 2,500 people. Sponsorships for the event, including the to-be-named brokerage used by all contestants, will also provide some revenue.
However, the main revenue driver will be pay-per-view sales of the event, Rogozinski said. He declined to disclose the cost of streaming the event, but said it will be “very reasonable.”
Other details regarding the event are still tentative. The selection process, which Rogozinski said will take place in the coming months, wasn’t disclosed. He did say the application process will be free, but users will be required to front their own cash to trade with.
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What that amount will be hasn’t been determined, but Rogozinski said regulations around pattern day trading require investors to maintain at least $25,000 in equity.
As for the effects of the coronavirus on the event, Rogozinski acknowledged spectators might not be able to attend the actual event, but said it will be streamed either way.
To that point, he said he considered whether he wanted to hold off making the announcement under the current climate.
“We decided to turn around and say, ‘You know what, let’s give some people some uplifting news,” he said. “We’re announcing in spite of this news in the spirit of trying to bring some joy to people’s faces.”
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