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7-11 Made in Heaven?

Jakarta's Announcement of a Proposed Casino Sharpens Community Divisions. A Foreshadow of Things to Come in Bali?

(7/12/2003) Movements underway to pave the way for the opening of a licensed casino in the Thousand Island Area, just north of the Nation's Capital, have re-awoken strong feelings in the Community both for and against "gambling tourism".

The Regent of the Pulau Seribu or Thousand Island area of Jakarta, Mr. Abdul Kadir revealed investor's plans to open a casino during a meeting of the Jakarta City Legislative Council held in early April in the Capital. Jakarta's Governor, Sutiyoso quickly endorsed the plan seeing it as a means to curb illegal gambling in the city and raise an estimated $US 150 million in badly needed tax revenues every year.

Predictably, negative response to the proposal appeared almost immediately with demonstrators massing in front of the Governor's residence in the Menteng Area of Jakarta and prominent religious leaders from the Council of Ulema's voicing their strong opposition to the plan.

Although yet to make a formal statement on the Pulau Seribu proposal, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gde Ardika, has in the past repeatedly stated his opposition to any form of gambling tourism in Indonesia, portraying such programs as against Indonesian law and inimical to the Nation's culture and religious roots.

Local pundits in Bali will be watching developments closely in Jakarta as several local businessmen have been thwarted in their past efforts to establish legalized gambling on the island.