Luis Miguel Bermúdez first began teaching sex education at one of Colombia’s biggest public schools in 2010. Located in the city of Bogotá, the school had some of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country at the time—and Colombia has one of the highest rates in Latin America.
To tackle this problem, Bermúdez took a different stance from the religious-based teachings that Colombian schools typically provide. He worked with parents, teachers, council officials and—most importantly—students to create a sex ed program that was built around an open attitude toward sexuality. The course covers topics like sexual diversity, human rights and desire.
Now, just over five years after the program started, the school’s pregnancy rate has gone from around 70 per year to zero!
Perhaps the class was a great success because students could talk in a safe space about sexuality, LGBTQ rights and sex. Although Colombian law states that girls age 14 and older can seek sexual health advice without parental consent, girls in the class said they were shunned and rejected when they sought reliable information from professionals.
Success like this has not been seen anywhere else in Bogotá, but Bermúdez is determined to help bring the program to the rest of Colombia and the world. We can be hopeful that rather than scaring teenagers, more educators across the globe will take the approach that Bermúdez did when teaching teens about sexual health.
Three stories from the cafeteria at PokerStars Towers including the results from the PokerStars Festival in Hamburg, Lex ‘RaSZi’ Veldhuis proving he still has it with a mighty fine win on Twitch, and Daniel Negreanu explains why he isn’t a fan of Thanksgiving.
Given the impact that German poker players are having on the global scene, it would be daft if a native didn’t win the PokerStars Festival Main Event in Hamburg this weekend.
Ulrich Pauls ensured we avoided a drift into daft by taking down the first prize of €105,850 in the €1,100 buy-in event. The 36-year-old from Hamburg nearly didn’t play. Before the Main Event, Pauls was one of the unhappiest faces of the 2,609 entrants from 54 different countries who created €1,170,138 in prize money.
But he went for it, like walking into a barbershop, saying, “Take it all off.”
Pauls, who had never cashed in a live event tracked by Hendon Mob up until his win, came into the final table riding shotgun. The Pole, Michal Lubas, was in the driving seat. A second Pole, PokerStars Team Pro, Marcin Horecki, played the role of the most famous face of the final table but fell very early.
The Main Event attracted 567 entrants, dwarfing the 367 that appeared last season, and ensuring the decision to create a €500,000 Guarantee didn’t make PokerStars look like a photosensitivity sufferer basking in the desert.
Final Table Results
1. Ulrich Pauls – €105,850 2. Michael Lubas – €66,220 3. Jan Sigel – €47,410 4. Behzad Zarnegar – €36,960 5. Bo Rundström – €28,980 6. Andrei Nodea – €22,770 7. Karolis Domarkas – €16,990 8. Marcin Horecki – €11,770 9. Rudolf Koster – €9,290
The former United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) Champion, Daniel Stacey, finished 12th.
Andre Haneberg Wins the High Roller
Outside of the Main Event, the €2,200 High Roller was another target that people wanted to hit hard. The event attracted 100 entrants, and Andre Haneberg defeated Kim De Han, heads-up, to take the €46,380 first prize.
The result ranks as Haneberg’s largest score to date eclipsing the €39,000 he banked for finishing runner-up to partypoker ambassador Anatoly Filatov in the €2,200 High Roller at the partypoker MILLION High Roller at the King’s Casino back in June.
Final Table Results
1. Andre Haneberg – €46,380 2. Kim De Han – €32,210 3. Martin Wendt – €21,300 4. Jamila von Perger – €16,670 5. Eric Henning – €13,440 6. Adnan Dizdarevic – €10,480 7. Varahram Vardjavand – €8,290 8. Frederik Jensen – €6,460 9. Grzegorz Derkowski – €4,890
Lex Veldhuis Proves There is Life in the Old Dog Yet
You need a lot of motivation to grind 10-15 hours of online poker per day, or maybe you just need one twat to ignite your boosters?
Before the weekend broke, Lex ‘RaSZi’ Veldhuis was competing in the $1,050 buy-in PokerStars Thursday Thrill, streaming to his loyal audience on Twitch, when a troll appeared from under his bridge to call Veldhuis old.
“Lex quit poker; you don’t got it in your anymore. You’re life’s with your girl now; you’re too old for this, you don’t got the fire in you anymore.”
15 hours later and Veldhuis proved that he still has it by winning the thing for $55,000 in front of 9,000 enthused viewers.
“Winning a tournament on Twitch feels like becoming Olympic champion,” Veldhuis told PokerStars’s Stephen Bartley after his win.
I’m not sure Olympic champions are that old, Lex.
Daniel Negreanu is not a fan of Thanksgiving
I had to ask.
I was about to sit down for my first Thanksgiving Dinner on U.S soil, and I had no idea what my American brethren were celebrating.
“What’s Thanksgiving for?”
The responses varied wildly.
The children explained how we were celebrating the arrival of the pilgrims in the 1600s. One adult told me that it was a celebration of the harvest. And then someone else in the room said to me that it is a celebration of the earliest white settlers, who eventually went on to massacre the native Americans.
And so I was prepared when Daniel Negreanu took to Twitter to share his Thanksgiving thoughts.
When I think of Thanksgiving I think of murder, rape, genocide of natives killed by white pilgrims armed with evil weapons. A destruction of a culture & its people. Not as happy as “football & Black Friday” but at least its the truth https://t.co/BsfkJ6NXHF
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) November 23, 2017
Over 400 people responded to the tweet with most of the comments apparently coming from a place of confirmation bias, which I expect from a community who hope to see pocket aces every time they peek at their cards.
Even a 16-game winning streak for the Boston Celtics that ended on Wednesday has not changed the minds of oddsmakers, who still believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The Cavaliers have been playing well lately, currently riding a six-game winning streak and sitting as -125 favorites to advance to the NBA Finals out of the East for the fourth straight year.
Cleveland’s LeBron James has made it to the championship round of the playoffs each of the previous seven years, going 3-4 between playing for the Cavs and Miami Heat. The presence of James – who many believe to be the best player in the league since Michael Jordan and arguably the greatest of all-time – has made it hard to bet against his team until at least the NBA Finals.
This season though, former teammate Kyrie Irving is doing everything he can to make sure the Celtics win the East.
Boston is listed as the +200 second choice to win it behind Irving and a talented young roster. After getting traded from Cleveland in the offseason for Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, Irving has proven his worth as a legitimate NBA MVP candidate, especially since free-agent forward Gordon Hayward went down with a leg injury in a season-opening loss to the Cavs. Hayward is not expected to return this year.
Besides the Celtics and Cavs, there is just one other team that seems to have a remote chance of winning the East, the Washington Wizards as the +1000 third choice. The Southeast Division-leading Wizards are led by point guard John Wall but are at least one All-Star player away from seriously competing with the top two in the conference.
In the Western Conference, it remains the Golden State Warriors and everyone else. The defending NBA champion Warriors are strong -250 favorites to win the West for the fourth year in a row, with the Houston Rockets (+600), San Antonio Spurs (+800) and Oklahoma City Thunder (+1000) the only teams with any real shot of unseating them.
The Thunder have struggled at times this season with their new “Big Three” of reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook plus All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. But Oklahoma City routed Golden State 108-91 on Wednesday and showed its potential.
Meanwhile, the Rockets and Spurs are both fighting for the Southwest Division title. Houston appears to be the top threat as one of two teams to win at Oracle Arena this year. The Detroit Pistons also handed the Warriors a rare home loss, and they are a good value pick to win the East now at +3300 as early leaders of the Central Division.
Considering I was still in utero at the turn of the millennium, it feels strange for me to say, “When I was a kid…” about anything. But I could finish that sentence with “We didn’t have YouTube” or “iPhones weren’t a thing” or even “Same-sex couples couldn’t get married.” Now, all of these things feel commonplace, if not outdated. The world has changed so rapidly, sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have these rights: same-sex couples can legally get married, adopt children and have the same future that my cisgender, heterosexual peers never have to think twice about.
That’s the thing about having “straight privilege”; it isn’t so much what you have, but rather, what you don’t have to think twice about. You’ll never have to live a secret double life, stuck halfway between in and out of the closet. You don’t have to worry about erasing the pronouns from your love poems for writing class. You don’t have to fear your family will stop loving you if they see you holding hands with the person you love.
And thankfully I don’t have to worry or fear any of these things either because I have friends and family who accept me as part of the LGBTQ community.
Around Thanksgiving, I remind myself to be thankful I have someone to go home to for the holidays. I’m thankful for the laws that protect me from homophobic harassment at school, a protection not all states have. I’m thankful I get to grow up in a time where I can dream of having my own family one day, even as a gay person. I am incredibly lucky.
During this time of year, I think about those who may have lost family, safety or stability when they came out. If you or anyone you know is at risk because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, there are resources to help, such as The Trevor Project, which has a 24/7 hotline available for LGBTQ youth in crisis. You can also reach out to friends, find an online support group or join the gay-straight alliance at your school (if there is one).
No one deserves to be alone because of their LGBTQ identity. And thankfully, with so many accessible tools connecting us to one another, no one ever really is.
GVC Holdings’ flagship betting brand Bwin has gone live in Russia, marking the first entry of a western bookmaker into the country’s licensed online betting market.
This week witnessed the launch of Bwin.ru, the joint venture of GVC Holdings, Russian-licensed bookmaker Digital Betting LLC and online technology firm Rambler & Co. The latter two firms are controlled by A&NN Investments, which is owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut.
The launch was somewhat overdue, coming over five months after the joint venture plans were first announced, and the company originally targeted a September launch, which was later pushed back to October, and eventually to November. Regardless, Bwin.ru becomes the 15th officially approved online bookmaker to launch in Russia’s regulated market.
Digital Betting CEO Dmitry Sergeyev (pictured), who also serves as Bwin.ru’s CEO, has set a goal of capturing 10% of Russia’s online betting market within three years. The deep-pocketed Mamut has promised to spend up to €10m per year boosting awareness of Bwin’s Russian site.
As with all Russian online bookmakers, Bwin.ru customers will have to register both via the site and with a TSUPIS online payments hub. Digital Betting belongs to the First Self-Regulatory Organization of Russian Bookmakers, and all First SRO members funnel their payments through the First TSUPIS hub.
The registration process involves both online registration and physically presenting one’s identity documents at a retail venue. Digital Betting lacks a retail bookmaking presence, so Bwin.ru punters will have to traipse down to their local Mobilnaya karta money transfer outlet to complete their transaction.
And just because Bwin.ru got the green light from Russian regulators doesn’t mean other Bwin domains are welcome in Russia’s ring-fenced betting-only (no casino, no poker) market. In June, the Roskomnadzor telecom watchdog had blacklisted 118 Bwin-related domains. As of Tuesday, that number had risen to 126.
Russia’s parliament is currently mulling legislation that would clamp down on financial institutions processing payments for unauthorized online gambling operators. Last week, Sergeyev told Bookmaker-Ratings that the legislation was “a good bill” but he wondered if unauthorized operators “will find options for circumventing” its restrictions.
Sergeyev said much will depend on how the Federal Tax Service monitors and updates its funding blacklist. Russia blacklists over 1,500 gambling domains every week, a system that even Russia’s Communications Minister says is “not viable,” and Sergeyev has concerns that bookies will similarly shift their funding through different companies to evade the financial censors.
“We believe the new frontier in online real-money casino is a mash-up of live streaming, social features and gamification” says CEO & Co-founder of Letsbet.com Michael Pedersen.
Michael Pedersen and Stefan Lind
Malta 17th November 2017: It’s with a clear goal of bringing a fresh perspective to the industry that former Regional Business Manager of NetEnt, Michael Pedersen and former Head of Operations of LeoVegas, Stefan Lind are joining forces to create a new and pioneering online casino. Letsbet.com will launch early 2018.
“Most casino operators are in the same boat, faced with limited ability to differentiate their respective core offering, as the same games are available on more or less all sites. That’s why it’s so important to have the courage to stand for something in terms of unique features and marketing concepts – we can’t all serve the same spaghetti Bolognese in our restaurants!” says CEO & Co-founder of Letsbet.com, Michael Pedersen. “We decided from day one that we wanted to be different, go all-in and dare to stand out!” he continues.
After a year of extensive research, the two founders believe there is a completely new category of online real-money casinos on the way. This new breed of casinos will see more social aspects from land-based and virtual currency environments implemented into a real-money setting.
“When you visit a land-based casino, do you sit down at the empty Blackjack table or the one with one seat left and people having fun? Casino players might not always want to directly speak to other players, but it’s clear that they often like to interact with the casino staff and enjoy the indirect presence of other players; that’s what we are trying to replicate using the latest technology.” says CMO & Co-founder of Letsbet.com, Stefan Lind.
Letsbet.com will have a number of industry-first features, for example daily live broadcasts, presented by casino hosts, giving players a new level of entertainment and interaction with the brand. With the rise in popularity of everything live and using top-notch streaming technology, this feature aims to increase conversion rates, extend session times and in general increase retention rates by building closer relationships with players. Another industry-first feature, will be a complete instant messenger function that allows players to add friends, create groups and chat if they wish.
The concept is based around a secret agency theme, where the player joins as the “new recruit” and moves up the ranks by completing assignments and missions.
Letsbet.com is launching through the Together Gaming (BetHard Group) platform, which holds an MGA license. Players will have access to all the premium game titles from providers such as NetEnt, Microgaming, Yggdrasil and Quickspin to mention a few. The initial focus for Letsbet.com will be the Nordic region.
To gain beta access and learn more, sign up at www.letsbet.com today.
Greek betting and lottery operator OPAP reported double-digit revenue gains in Q3 on strong growth in its betting and expanded video lottery terminal (VLT) divisions.
On Tuesday, OPAP reported that its revenue in the three months ending September 30 was up 12% year-on-year to €357.4m, while earnings shot up 49% to €93m and net income rose nearly two-thirds to over €48m.
It’s worth nothing that the earnings figure got a wind-assisted boost from a €14.7m reversal of litigation provisions, while Q3 2016 also suffered from €6.4m in one-off VLT arbitration-related costs. Absent those factors, earnings were up a more modest 13.6% to €78m. Similarly, adjusted net profits came in at €37.6m.
Delving deeper into the revenue numbers, OPAP’s betting revenue was up 21.4% to €112.3m in Q3, thanks in part to the ongoing deployment of its new self-service betting terminals (SSBT). The company’s virtual sports products were also credited with having a particularly strong quarter.
The mainstay lottery segment reported a modest 1.7% revenue gain to €193.9m while the Instant & Passive segment saw revenue fall 3% to just under €34.9m.
OPAP’s new VLT segment contributed nearly €16.3m, bringing the segment’s year-to-date contribution to €25.6m. OPAP had an installed VLT base of just under 5,300 at the end of Q3, up from 3,031 at the end of Q2.
OPAP says the pace of the VLT rollout has picked up in Q4 to date, with over 7k operational units as of November 15. The company expects to have around 10k VLTs in place by the end of the year.
On Tuesday, the Greek parliament approved legislation that will cap the total number of VLTs at 25k, a reduction of 10k from what OPAP was originally promised. To compensate, the new legislation frees OPAP from the requirement of subcontracting out a portion of its VLT business while also extending OPAP’s betting license by a further eight years.
Greek legislators have also promised to address two other gaming industry issues before the year is through. One bill would overhaul Greece’s land-based casino market, authorizing the relocation of the Regency Casino from its current spot on Mont Parnes while reducing casino gaming revenue taxes to something more compatible with operator profits.
The other piece of legislation would finally implement long-promised changes to online gambling regulations. The changes would include formal licensing of international operators, but questions remain as to whether the tax rates will be reduced to a level that would entice operators to submit applications.