Home Indonesian government engages in campaign against “blood sucking” online gambling

Indonesian government engages in campaign against “blood sucking” online gambling


  • Indonesia purged over 2 million illegal gambling sites operated from Cambodia.
  • Over 3 million Indonesians gambled online last year, totaling almost $20 billion.
  • President Widodo urges public vigilance and reporting to combat the pervasive issue.

Indonesian authorities have engaged in a curb against illegal online gambling, which is “sucking the people’s blood dry” according to one government official. 

Communications Minister Budi Arie Setiadi confirmed the purge of more than 2 million websites offering illicit betting services, which are said to be operated from Cambodia.

In the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, gambling is prohibited altogether whether online or not but despite the ban, more than 3 million Indonesians reportedly indulged in online betting last year. The activity was estimated to be worth almost $20 billion, roughly 1.5% of GDP, according to government data.

“We are waging a universal war against online gambling,” Minister Budi told Reuters.

“Online gambling is so concerning, it’s sucking the people’s blood dry,” he said, adding that the affliction is not just impacting family finances, but having a detrimental effect on other domestic concerns.

“This is a phenomenon that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

President Joko Widodo was also prominent in the crackdown against betting activity, as he took to various social media platforms to headline the campaign.

“Don’t gamble, both offline and online. It’s better if you have good fortune, you have money, you save it or use it as business capital,” he implored.

Widodo, who will make way for president-elect Prabowo Subianto in October, urged all public figures, religious leaders, and the public to “monitor each other, and also report if there are any indications of online gambling”, while conceding it was difficult to eradicate gambling due to its “cross-border nature”.

High-profile flurry of gambling-linked incidents

This issue is a prominent one in Indonesia following a spate of incidents directly linked to gambling activity, garnering plenty of public attention.

Last week, an Indonesian policewoman in the East Java province set her husband on fire due to a reported gambling addiction that she said caused serious financial difficulty. In another case, a military officer is said to have taken his own life due to significant debts racked up due to betting.

In recent days, an army official in south Sulawesi confessed to embezzling 876 million rupiah (53,200 USD) of his unit’s funds to put toward his online gambling activity. Agus Subiyanto, commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, has committed to “take firm action” against any personnel involved in online gambling.

The Indonesian government has established a multi-agency task force, in partnership with Interpol, to strengthen its defense against online gambling. Authorities have already seized thousands of bank accounts but the extent of the problem is highlighted by the hosting of most of the servers (used by the websites) in Cambodia, where thousands of Indonesians are said to work to contribute to the operation, but this particular claim was not substantiated by Minister Budi

Economists have outlined how gambling activity in the Asian nation impacts long-term productivity and traps people in poverty, especially those on lower incomes, while officials have blamed gambling problems for contributing to divorce rates and rising crime.

Image credit: Pixabay/Pexels

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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