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Would you travel to Indonesia to Gamble
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Would you travel to Indonesia to Gamble?

One of the cities that relies on tourism the most in Indonesia, Batam, is having more and more difficulties catering to the thousands of tourists that flock there every week because of one thing; in a predominantly Muslim nation, gambling is completely against their religious beliefs.

Still, people from many of the neighboring Asian countries as well as from all over the world travel to Indonesia and take advantage of the covert gambling arcades located there. Known as “gelpers”, these gambling haven’s decorate their locations to look like arcades but the “arcade games” located within are actually gambling machines.

They’re actually one of the city’s main force attractions and brought in over 900,000 visitorslast year.  “The presence of gelpers has especially boosted the tourism industry, and indeed provided jobs,” says the head of Batam’s tourism agency, YusfaHendri. Unfortunately, many of the arcades have been raided and shut down as of late because, as mentioned previously, gambling is against the Muslim religion.

 The University of Indonesia’s AdrianusMeliala, a sociologist, is one of many academics that have been calling on Indonesia’s government to amend their gambling laws, possibly making accommodations to allow restricted casino operations only for foreigners. Another solution being suggested is, as some other Muslim countries have done, to locate casinos on an island and restrict entry. But this won’t help with online casino and betting websites like M88 Indonesia.

“A law should reflect the reality on the ground,” Professor Adrianus told The Straits Times, adding that there are aspirations from some quarters to legalize gambling. “A law should adjust to the current reality.”

As to the question of whether or not people travel to Indonesia just to gamble, it seems that the answer is yes, and many in the small Asian country are fearful that if something isn’t done to find a middle ground solution, thousands of people and millions of dollars will soon find their way to other Asian countries instead.

“It’s a difficult decision, but do we want to continue seeing thousands of Indonesians spend money on gambling overseas? That is capital flight. So it’s high time the government did something.” Said BagusSudibya of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies.

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