Sulawesi Diving and Casinos
What do the MDA’s plans for Sulawesi mean for the diving industry?
Aside from the rapidly booming scuba diving industry that the Sulawesi region has become known for, Sulawesi is also aiming to become a “mini-Macau”. The province’s Management and Development Agency has been encouraging investors to put up casinos and other gambling hubs in Northern Sulawesi since 2008, but there are still only quite a small number of casinos in the area.
This lack of gambling opportunities in the area comes as both a pro and a con for the diving industry, as while fewer establishments means less competition, the industry is also missing out on a world of opportunities for funding. In other parts of the globe, casinos are sponsoring charity events and competitions for divers and sports enthusiasts. Last year, the world’s first underwater poker game was held in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The event was sponsored by the Napoleons Casino, and it invited people to put on a wet suit and dive down six meters to watch the one-of-a-kind poker battle. The poker game was able to raise £6,500 (130,998,810 IDR) for Macmillan.
Casinos are also often pretty open-minded when it comes to the sports they’re promoting. Betfair has been in close contact with SportsAid since 2008, providing sports clubs with the funding needed to hold events and purchase equipment through their Cash 4 Clubs program. Together, they’ve sponsored everything from football clubs to trampoline clubs and, of course, dive clubs. This sort of program works extremely well for both scuba clubs and the casinos, as the clubs get the funding needed to travel to Sulawesi or hold their charity events, and the casinos get the exposure needed to be able to create a viable business in the area.
Holding dives for the benefit of charity is, of course, nothing new. In fact, the Bunaken Sea Garden Resort -- one of the most popular diving destinations in all of Indonesia -- donates a part of their diving income to local charities. Partnering up with a local casino would be a great way to encourage more locals to go out and experience the many joys of diving in their own country, increasing awareness levels across the region. However, while there are dozens of resorts that offer scuba diving packages, divers who wish to experience a bit of gambling during their stay will need to travel into the heart of Indonesia to get their fill.