A packed bus winds its way from Kuala Lumpur to the jungle every hour. Along the side of the road, a monkey curiously looks at some garbage. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this bus would go to the villages and plantations. The final destination, however, is Genting Highlands: a resort full of casinos and attractions.
- Genting Highlands is an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur and is the only place in Malaysia where gambling is legal. In the 1970s, the Chinese migrant Lim Goh Tong managed to obtain the country’s first and only casino license. Soon the casino opened its doors. Since then, the place has become a resort full of casinos, hotels and attractions and is known as the Las Vegas of Malaysia. It attracts gamblers from all over Asia.
There are many guests for casino’s in Malaysia
To get there, all guests must first cross the jungle. But because that is of course not possible, a cable car has been devised, connecting Genting Highlands with the road at the bottom of the mountain. A queue of hundreds of people are waiting in a large room for their turn to get into the gondolas. The waiting hall is full of advertisements for the attractions of the amusement park. With the text ‘Experience a European winter here’ people are lured to Snowworld. The place where children can feel snow for the first time in a country where it is rarely colder than 25 degrees.
What can you do for casino’s in Malaysia?
After the gondola ride over a beautiful rainforest including jungle sounds, suddenly buildings become visible. Two white flats show off on the mountain surrounded by greenery. In those buildings are not only snowworld, roller coasters and the largest hotel in the world, but also several large casinos where tens of thousands of cameras are hanging per arcade. The gambling halls never close and are immensely popular throughout Asia.
- “I’m from Singapore,” says a middle-aged Chinese looking woman. She sits fanatically gambling behind a machine. “Several times a year I come to Malaysia to go to the casino here. In my country you pay 300 ringgit to enter.
- Here I can use that money to wager it.” The woman explains that gambling is in Chinese culture, just like doing business and making as much money as possible. To the question whether gambling and making as much money as possible are not contradictory, she answers: “No, we come here to make money, not to lose a capital”.
Bonus points and temptation
Players at the casino all have a Genting Rewards Card. A card that allows them to earn new points every time they come to gamble. With these points they can get things for free throughout the resort. For example, the card can be used for food and after a while of saving up, a nice new cell phone is also a possibility. “I live here at the hotel,” says Karahm, a 38 year old American standing at the poker tables. “It’s cheaper to gamble here regularly and pay for the points in the hotel than to rent something in Kuala Lumpur. His Malaysian friend Philip (52) tells that a number of Malaysians also live in this way in the gambling paradise.