Love, Simon Is a Love Letter to LGB People



By Isabella Gonzalez, 17, Staff Writer


March 29, 2018

Whenever my girlfriend and I go see a movie, we always lock lips when a kissing scene happens. Of course, it’s a way to make the date more intimate, but it’s also our small way of upsetting heterosexual norms. Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. in 2015, as a bisexual person I don’t feel represented on the big screen. Three years later, Love, Simon offers hope that maybe I won’t have to rely on silly fan theories, like the theory that those two background characters from Finding Dory are lesbians, to feel represented in films.

Love, Simon, based on a young adult novel, is a romantic comedy starring Nick Robinson as the title teen, Simon Spier. From the start of the film, Simon states that he is “just like you.” He comes from a good family, has a tight-knit group of friends and loves Hamilton. But behind his perfect life, Simon is hiding in the closet, not sharing that he’s gay with anyone. His secret doesn’t stay with him for long once he starts emailing an anonymous gay student using the alias “Blue.”

Considering the fact that Love, Simon is the first high-profile, gay-centric teen romance to be made by a major film studio and distributed nationwide, there were lots of expectations, pressures and controversy about the movie. From casting a heterosexual actor as the lead to Simon being seen as “too white privilege,” Love, Simon has faced its fair share of critics, even with a 91-percent Rotten Tomatoes score. But for someone that’s recently openly bisexual, this movie hits home for me and my other LGB friends that teared up next to me in the theater. The film packs in lots of laughs and heartfelt moments, with scenes ranging from characters coming out as heterosexual to tearful confessions. The story isn’t anything new but is extremely cute and endearing.

Interestingly enough, the most impactful moment for me wasn’t just from the movie itself. When two boys confessed their love for each other and kissed, cheers throughout the theater erupted, shaking my recliner seat. When my girlfriend and I followed in the lip locking, it felt especially right. Hollywood is finally starting to take a close look at their audience. Now, give me the girl version of this love story!

Photo credit 20th Century Fox 



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NetEnt games live with Caliente in Mexico


NetEnt games live with Caliente in MexicoFollowing a successful integration, a selection of NetEnt’s award-winning games are now live and available in Caliente’s online casino network in Mexico.

NetEnt recently signed a license agreement with Caliente to deliver online casino games for the regulated market in Mexico. Caliente is the largest online gaming operator in Mexico.

For more information about the agreement with Caliente in Mexico, please see the press release from October 2017: click here.

For additional information please contact:

Björn Krantz, Chief Commercial Officer, NetEnt
Phone: +350 560 040 64
bjorn.krantz@netent.com

Roland Glasfors, Investor Relations, NetEnt
Phone: +46 760 024 863
roland.glasfors@netent.com

Guido A. Murguia, CFO, Caliente Interactive
Phone: +1 (619) 316-2573
guido@caliente.mx
This press release contains information that NetEnt AB (publ) is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out above, at 08:30 CET on March 29, 2018.

About NetEnt

NetEnt is a leading digital entertainment company, providing premium gaming solutions to the world’s most successful online casino operators. Since its inception in 1996, NetEnt has been a true pioneer in driving the market with thrilling games powered by a cutting-edge platform. NetEnt is committed to helping customers stay ahead of the competition, is listed on NASDAQ Stockholm (NET–B) and employs 1,000 people in Malta, Stockholm, Kiev, Krakow, Gothenburg, Gibraltar and New Jersey. www.netent.com

About Caliente Interactive

Caliente Interactive, a division of Grupo Caliente, is the leading online operator in Mexico. With a history spanning over 100 years and an expansive retail footprint, Caliente has consistently been the standard in Mexican gaming. Caliente is regulated by the Direccion General de Juegos y Sorteos of the Secretaria de Gobernacion in Mexico. www.caliente.mx

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PokerStars introduce shot clock, BB ante and re-entry at EPT Monte Carlo


A few words on the importance of ‘location’ within a brand story as PokerStars prepare to roll out the changes at the upcoming European Poker Tour pit stop in Monte Carlo.

Bill Perkins. Now, there’s a man who has his shit together. Tall, handsome, immaculate bone structure, a mass of finely tuned muscles, ideas flying out of his ears sprinkling feelgood juice on anyone within spitting range. Evidence that money can buy you an excellent looking birthday suit.

I’m in his apartment, asking him questions, one of which surrounds his hobby of making movies. I can’t remember the context, but I remePokerStars introduce shot clock, BB ante and re-entry at EPT Monte Carlo mber his response. For Perkins, making movies isn’t about making money, it’s about the love of the artform.

The more I think about it, PokerStars Live has the same feel.

PokerStars became the largest online poker room this side of my blue belly button fluff because they created the perfect online experience. The acquisition of John Duthie’s European Poker Tour (EPT) was a side gig. Yes, it fits nicely with what they are doing online, but it’s more fancy wine and cheese than bread and butter.

Take EPT Monte Carlo for example.

I’ve just finished The Fortune Cookie Principle by brand specialist Bernadette Jiwa. One of her chapters focuses on the importance of location.

“Location, though isn’t just about where you choose to do business; it’s about figuring out where your customers are.” 

I don’t think they’re in Monte Carlo.

I’ve worked at EPT Monte Carlo once. I walked for miles to a little Spar so I could stock up on food and water, and stole what I could from my free breakfast bar. And it isn’t only the writers who find it difficult to survive in the land of silk scarves and stockings – the players are also a tad sensitive to spending €30 on a cheeseburger.

And yet, the EPT brand screams Monte Carlo.

At the end of Jiwa’s chapter on ‘location’ she suggests that every business should attempt to answer four questions.

Let’s give it a go.

The Four Questions 

Does the location of your business fit with the rest of your brand story? 

Monte Carlo is a flash joint pure and simple. It’s where people like Patrik Antonius call home, and the residents are so fucking cool they can’t be arsed to build a Formula 1 racetrack (they host the race on the main road).

PokerStars is also flash.

For as long as I can remember they have been the home of the cool gang. And until recently, all the big money flowed through their chamber pots.

Where are your customers? 

Like I alluded to earlier, they aren’t in Monte Carlo.

PokerStars hosts events there for two reasons. It fits with the main story arc of the company, and it gives online satellite dreamers the opportunity to have a wet one.

How does the location of your business make customers feel? 

Special.

Rich.

For many, a once in a lifetime trip.

For the grinders, a pain in the arse. Too many ticks in the expense column. And yet there is ego at play here. Monte Carlo – fuck yeah!

How does your location support the rest of your business strategy? 

I believe the business strategy of PokerStars is to provide experiences of a lifetime.  That’s what the Players’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) is all about. Come rain or shine, anyone qualifying for EPT Monte Carlo will have a tale to tell no matter how deep they limp.

A New EPT Monte Carlo 

PokerStars resurrected the EPT because their customers voted with their feet when they decided to put a shotgun to the head of the PokerStars Championship and pull the trigger. Live events aren’t PokerStars core business, the online realm is, but this is an integral part of the experience as it extends to that online demographic.

You send the peasants via online satellites and hope they return as kings.

Then they tell their friends about it.

“Where you choose to interact with and sell to your customers – and, more important, where they want to connect with you – must form part of your story strategy.” – Bernadette Jiwa. 

PokerStars brand story has changed over time. For many years, it was to give hope to the person who wanted to be a professional poker player. Today, it’s all about providing memorable experiences, and so the EPT brand falls into that category even if it isn’t a core part of the business.

This year, things change.

There will be 39 events in all, and 27 of them will incorporate the Big Blind Ante, including the Main Event. Also, the Main Event will allow one re-entry per person (based on the cost of travelling to such a locale), and the shot clock comes into play on Day 2, the first time in EPT Main Event history.

There will be six Platinum Passes up for grabs:

EPT Monte Carlo winner
EPT Monte Carlo Day 2 Random Draw
EPT National winner
EPT National Day 2 Random Draw
Event #28 PSPC Live Satellite
A PokerStars, TV viewer.

And PokerStars is even doing something about those expensive cheeseburgers by providing players with food vouchers guaranteeing 10% off casino grub, meaning you don’t have to steal eggs and croissants from the breakfast bar which wouldn’t gelwith the classy brand story I’ve been banging on about now would it.

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    Japanese regulators lower casino chip exchange reporting requirements


    Governments around the globe have taken a serious interest in trying to curtail the amount of money laundering that is supposedly plaguing the gaming industry. Canada and British Columbia have been busily enacting legislation to prevent repeats of the negative publicity surrounding questionable activity at the River Rock Casino, and the U.S., the UK and Australia have also been exploring changes in policies to help clean up the system. Japan is now joining the fight, and recently ordered changes in reporting guidelines at casinos in the country.

    Japanese regulators lower casino chip exchange reporting requirementsOperators of future casinos in Japan will be obligated to report customers who exchange chips worth $9,500 (¥1 million) or more. Regulators are responding to concerns that the casinos will be havens for the exchange of “dirty money” that is used for money laundering or financing terrorism. The new casinos are slated to be opened in integrated resorts in an effort to bring in more international tourism to the island nation.

    Anyone who buys or cashes chips worth $9,500 or more will have to provide their name, address and birth date to casino operators. This information will then be turned over to a casino management committee, which will be created at a later date by the government. That entity will catalog the data and investigate any instances that raise flags, such as repeated high-dollar exchanges.

    Japan isn’t the first country to introduce these money-laundering countermeasures. In the U.S., Nevada regulators require that casinos follow the same guidelines, and in Singapore the amount is less, at roughly $7,600. Macau has also placed restrictions on exchanges, with Large-Amount Transaction Reports being required for exchanges by junkets of more than around $62,000. Suspicious Transaction Reports are more vague, and are required for any transaction that is thought to be associated with money laundering.

    Money laundering is big business. In 2012, a report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that money-laundering activities amounted to as much as $3.6 trillion per year. That report brought about changes to multiple industries, including gambling, corporate reporting and banking.

    Japan is set to re-enter the gambling market with the new casinos. Almost all forms of gambling, except pachinko and horseracing, have been prohibited. However, a change of heart by the Japanese parliament has opened the doors for casinos to enter the country. If everything goes according to plan, Japan anticipates an increase in tourism that jumps by 16 million visitors by the year 2020, up from the 24 million recorded in 2016.

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    Scratching backs: poker and the law of reciprocity


    Lee Davy talks about Robert Cialdini’s Law of Reciprocity and how poker companies could use it to forge better relationships with writers and avoid brand calamities.

    You wouldn’t believe how many layers I am wearing. It’s February. You would think it was December; I swear it’s global warming. Donald Trump and his cronies don’t have a clue. But I don’t get it. If the world is heating up because of factory farming, car fumes and Port Talbot Steelworks then why am I so cold?

    Scratching backs: poker and the law of reciprocityThe itch.

    I can’t reach it.

    It would mean taking off my backpack, my jacket, my fleece, my hoodie, my checkered shirt, and my t-shirt so my crusty warted finger could scratch. So I ask my wife.

    You scratch my back.

    I’ll scratch yours.

    If you’ve read Influence by Robert Cialdini, you will be aware of the theory of reciprocity. If not, let me enlighten you.

    Occasionally, online poker rooms invite me to attend live events. They pay for my travel expenses and accommodation. It’s savvy business for them because while I am there, I am thrusting their branding into my articles on a daily basis. But there is another subtle ploy at work. The online poker rooms understand the theory of reciprocity. They know that if they treat me well I am going to feel a psychological urge to help them pick up the apples once they flip over the cart.

    It’s utterly brilliant, especially if you aren’t aware it’s happening.

    A Day in the Life of a Writer 

    I wake up at 6 am; meditate, stretch, make warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar, take my supplements, turn on the radiators and settle down to do some research.

    I go through my Google Alert feeds, check my emails, drink my pre-made smoothie, have a poo, trawl some key social media feeds, and cut and paste potential stories into an excel spreadsheet.

    At 7.30 am, I head to Coffee #1 and start writing the first of four articles that will appear on CalvinAyre. Some days are easier than others. It’s a delight to wake up to an inbox full of stories. More often than not there are no stories. The clock ticks. My journey to the edge of the night seems to take an eternity. I feel like someone has my eyelids held apart while someone else kicks the shit out of my eyeballs.

    Outside of my work for CalvinAyre I have my other contracts, my Truth About Alcohol business, and a wife and two kids that I need to pay attention to if I want them to remain a part of my life for the foreseeable future.

    In short, I am busy.

    The CoinPoker Debacle 

    I believe it’s essential for poker companies to understand how a writer thinks, feels and operates on a daily basis. They also need to follow the law of reciprocity.

    Let’s take the recent CoinPoker debacle as a prime example.

    Alex Weldon, who works for GameIntel and provides content for PartTimePoker, recently wrote an opinion/research piece suggesting that CoinPoker’s security was as tight a snail’s arsehole after a date with a donkey and that something very odd was going on regarding player numbers after spotting someone playing 42 tables for eight hours straight.

    Before Weldon posted his piece, he approached CoinPoker about his findings.

    CoinPoker ignored him.

    Weldon posted his article.

    I wake up at 6 am, do all of the things above, and read Weldon’s piece. Brilliant. I have something to write. I send a note to CoinPoker asking for a response. Nothing. I write a similar article based on Weldon’s hard work.

    Another writer does the same.

    Then another.

    Now the poker community is buzzing with the news that CoinPoker is a den of thieves and buggerers.

    The next day, CoinPoker respond in Medium refuting some of Weldon’s claims, and doing a half-arsed job of telling the public that something odd was happening, they are dealing with it, you should feel okay about using the site, but we won’t tell you what we found out during our investigation.

    I received an email from CoinPoker.

    PokerNews received contact with CoinPoker.

    New articles emerge considering CoinPoker’s reaction by which time the sticks and stones have already battered the brand.

    It reminds me of the Coronation Street star accused of rape who a judge later declared was innocent. Nobody cared. In their minds, he was guilty because the headlines said he was, and that’s all that flashed through the neocortex. By the time the judge delivered his verdict, we had forgotten about the whole incident.

    Two years later, you see the celebrity in a bar.

    You point to him and tell your mate – “That guy’s a rapist.”

    The Point 

    Scratching backs: poker and the law of reciprocityIf CoinPoker had paid Weldon some respect, and, recognising the gravity of the situation, spoke to him and promised him an angle before he published his work, I am sure they could have found a mutually beneficial way forward.

    Ignoring him, and then trying to fix it later, is poor form.

    I know it’s not easy, but if poker companies want to stop writers inking incorrect information and assumptions, then there needs to be more of an effort to forge relationships and open up instant lines of communication.

    When you ask for a quote and receive the bog standard corporate response it’s not worth blowing your snot into.

    The poker community is not a child.

    It needs to be treated like an adult.

    CoinPoker found a problem with it’s security. Why else would it close three accounts? Then tell us what the issue was. You have to earn trust, in the same way you want to earn writer reciprocity.

    Be open.

    Be free.

    Be available.

    Scratch our backs, and we will scratch yours.

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    PokerStars, GVC, Paddy Power Betfair join US casino lobby


    american-gaming-association-pokerstars-stars-groupAmerica’s top casino lobby group has welcomed six new members, including a company the group once called “a business built on deceit, chicanery and the systematic flouting of US law.”

    On Thursday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced that it had added six new companies as Board-level members, including BMM Testlabs, Oklahoma-based tribal casino operator Choctaw Casinos and Resorts, Nevada’s Golden Entertainment, UK-listed operators GVC Holdings and Paddy Power Betfair, as well as The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars.

    AGA president/CEO Geoff Freeman said the newly “diverse membership reflects the interest of the casino gaming industry.” Freeman said the addition of these six “industry leaders” would allow the AGA to better serve as “an effective advocate for the industry as a whole.”

    The AGA announcement is proof that, if you wait long enough, the world eventually turns on its head. In 2013, the AGA actively campaigned against PokerStars being issued a New Jersey online gambling license, marking the first time the lobby group had ever felt the need to intervene in a licensing process.

    Stars, then under its original ownership, had sought to participate in New Jersey’s regulated online market after reaching a $731m settlement with the US Department of Justice to resolve its civil liabilities stemming from the 2011 ‘Black Friday’ online poker indictments.

    That settlement stated that the DOJ saw no legal reason why Stars should be excluded from future participation in US regulated markets. But the AGA insisted at the time that the settlement hadn’t “altered in any way” the rank odor of criminality wafting off the Stars brand.

    To be fair, the AGA was then under the command of Frank Fahrenkopf, who handed the reins of power to Freeman just one month after making those pejorative comments toward Stars. But it does vividly illustrate how much the US gambling landscape has changed since those days.

    PokerStars did eventually get licensed in New Jersey (as did GVC Holdings’ PartyPoker brand) and the AGA has since reversed itself on a number of other positions, including its recent support for overturning the federal ban on single-game sports betting outside Nevada.

    The AGA’s welcoming of online gambling operators into the fold will almost certainly revive concerns that Las Vegas Sands will withdraw its membership from the AGA. Sands boss Sheldon Adelson, who hates online gambling the way Donald Trump’s hair hates gusts of wind, previously threatened to withdraw his financial suppport unless the AGA reversed its position advocating for online legalization, which prompted the AGA to knuckle under.

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    Digitain ties up EGT’s interactive portfolio


    Leading provider integrates another exciting new suite

    Digitain ties up EGT’s interactive portfolio15th March 2018, Yerevan – Multi-channel casino platform and sports betting supplier Digitain is set to integrate the full suite of global gaming software and solutions provider EGT Interactive into its flourishing platform.

    The new agreement adds a high-quality range to Digitain’s existing portfolio, which recently shattered the 3,000-games mark on its casino platform, and continues to go through the gears.

    Among the games made available to their operator partners via the deal will be EGT Interactive’s latest release 40 Mega Clover, as well as popular titles like Almighty Ramses II and the classic Burning Hot.

    The integration brings extra muscle to the supplier’s casino platform, as it widens its sphere of influence throughout international markets, from CIS-facing territories to Asia and Africa.

    Suren Khachatryan, Digitain CEO, said: “It’s very pleasing to make this announcement. We have launched some fantastic content over the past 12 months on casino, with a wide variety of themes, features, and maths models to ensure improved gameplay. We hope they’ll readily become firm favourites with operators and players alike.”

    Todor Zaharief, EGT Interactive’s Manager, added: “It’s great news to partner with Digitain, which has progressed its global reach significantly in recent months. It’s a deal which also allows our products to be promoted via a thriving sportsbook station. EGT Interactive’s heritage is based on innovation and advanced gaming software which already powers some of the world’s top casino operators. So we can’t wait to see how our games perform across what in many cases are new markets for us.”

    Digitain has broadened its influence across Europe, central Asia and Africa over the past year, with its state-of-the-art sportsbook (offering odds on 65 different sports, 7,500 leagues, and more than 3,000 betting markets) gaining progressive traction.

    For more information, please contact:

    Square in the Air Communications
    Robin Hutchison, Director, 131-151 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 5BB | +44 (0) 20 3586 8272 | robin@squareintheair.com

    About Digitain:

    Digitain is a sportsbook and casino platform provider offering best of breed turn-key and white-label solutions. The company’s primary focus is on the regulated European market, with ambitious plans to expand its geographical footprint into the Americas and Asia. It employs more than 800 of the brightest minds and creative talents in the gaming industry, with the aim of providing a one-stop-shop for its customers. The multi-channel Digitain Gaming Platform allows operators to plug-in sportsbook, casino, live dealer and virtual sports modules, and includes an integrated payment gateway, bonus engine, CRM system and dedicated customer support. Its sportsbook product covers 65 sports, taking in 7,500 leagues, and offers more than 3,000 betting markets. It also offers odds on 30,000 live events each month, while its casino solution has 3,000-plus games from major casino suppliers.

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