Indonesia: Illegal Online Gambling Transactions Exceed US$ 37 Billion in Q1 2024

President Jokowi issued a decree to form taskforce combating illegal online gambling following the disturbing trend.
Online Gambling Illustration.
Online Gambling illustration (Openverse).

Indonesia's Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) reported that online gambling transactions surpassed IDR 600 trillion, approximately US$ 37 billion in the first quarter of 2024 (US$ 1 = IDR 16,200).

Gambling, online or otherwise, is outlawed by Indonesian laws.

Illegal online gambling continues to dominate suspicious financial transaction reports recorded by PPATK, accounting for 32.1%.

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"Accumulation from online gambling turnover has indeed continued to increase over time. In 2021, it was detected at IDR 57 trillion, in 2022 it jumped to IDR 81 trillion, and in 2024 it reached IDR 327 trillion," said PPATK Public Relations Coordinator Natsir Kongah during the 'Mati Melarat Karena Judi' (Dying Poor Because of Gambling) discussion event on Saturday, June 15, 2024, as quoted by Kontan.

To identify online gambling transactions, Natsir explained that PPATK first receives reports from the Financial Services Authority (OJK), then analyzes and submits them to investigators.

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Natsir revealed that PPATK is aware of the mechanisms used to transfer online gambling proceeds. "We know the mechanism, how the perpetrators operate, sending funds from small-scale operators to larger ones," he explained.

He noted that online gambling funds transferred abroad have reached IDR 5 trillion (US$ 309 million), with the amount steadily increasing.

These funds flow to several ASEAN countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Natsir also highlighted that there are 3.2 million online gamblers in Indonesia from various backgrounds, with 5,000 bank accounts blocked.

A significant majority, 80%, of these gamblers place bets exceeding IDR 100,000 (approximately US$ 6).

"There are students, college students, and housewives. This is quite worrying for us," he added.

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Presidential Directive

President Jokowi formed anti online gambling taskforce. (Photo: BPMI Setpress)
President Jokowi formed anti online gambling taskforce. (Photo: BPMI Setpress)

President Joko Widodo strongly emphasized the dangers of gambling in a statement at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, as broadcasted on the Presidential Secretariat's YouTube channel on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

"Don't gamble... Don't gamble... Don't gamble... either offline or online. It's better to save any fortune you have or use it as business capital," the President stated.

President Joko Widodo has officially formed a task force to combat online gambling practices in Indonesia.

The establishment of the task force is outlined in Presidential Decree (Keppres) No. 21 of 2024 on the Task Force for Eradicating Online Gambling, which was issued in Jakarta on Friday, June 14, 2024. 

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Hadi Tjahjanto has been appointed as the head of the task force.

According to Article 2 of the decree, the Online Gambling Task Force is directly responsible to President Jokowi. The decree has been in effect since it was signed on June 14, 2024.

Director-General of Public Information and Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information, Usman Kansong, explained that following the formation of the task force, the government will not only take action but also focus on prevention.

"Prevention is also a very important factor, so we work from upstream to downstream, from prevention to action," Usman told Tempo on Saturday, June 15, 2024.

The task force's tenure is effective from the issuance of the presidential decree until December 31, 2024, with an option for extension by a subsequent presidential decree. The task force operates with the support of a secretariat based at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs office.

The government claims to have shut down 2.1 million online gambling sites and 5,000 bank accounts suspected of being linked to online gambling transactions.