Date: 14.05.2024

by Kajetan Sawicz

Indonesia’s Hard Battle Against Illegal Online Gambling

The Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Informatics (Kominfo) has taken significant strides in its battle against illegal online gambling. Over the past year, the ministry has aggressively targeted and removed more than 800,000 illegal gambling websites — a number that far surpasses the total number of sites taken down in the previous five years combined.

A Growing Crisis

The statistics paint a grim picture of the online gambling crisis gripping Indonesia. Government estimates reveal that a staggering 2.7 million Indonesians engage in regular online gambling, with 327 trillion rupiah (approximately $27.6 billion) in funds circulating through illegal platforms in 2023 alone.

The government has determined that 78% of these gamblers are young people, with many falling within the 17-to-20-year-old age bracket and hailing from low-income families.

Kominfo’s Aggressive Measures

In a concerted effort to combat this growing issue, Kominfo has taken unprecedented action. In the second half of 2023 alone, the ministry succeeded in taking down more than 800,000 gambling websites—a feat that dwarfs the total number of sites shuttered in the previous five years. This aggressive campaign underscores the government’s unwavering determination to eradicate online gambling from the country.

Kominfo’s director general of informatics application, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, stated, “Our focus is to protect the younger generation from the adverse effects of online gambling. We are committed to disrupting these illegal activities and will continue to take down sites that facilitate gambling.”

Challenges in the Fight

However, the battle has not been without its challenges. The government has found it increasingly difficult to block these gambling websites, as their computer servers are predominantly located overseas, often in neighboring countries like the Philippines and Cambodia. As soon as one site is taken down, new ones quickly emerge with different names and web addresses, making it a never-ending game of whack-a-mole for the authorities.

Kominfo has also faced technological and legal hurdles. The ministry has called for greater international cooperation to tackle the issue, stressing that “cross-border collaboration is essential to effectively combat these illegal activities.” This sentiment was echoed by Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Informatics, Johnny G. Plate, who emphasized the need for regional efforts to curb the proliferation of online gambling platforms.

Impact on Indonesian Society

The impact of online gambling on Indonesian society, particularly on its youth, is profound. The easy access to illegal gambling websites has led to a surge in addiction rates, financial losses, and related social problems. Experts argue that the government’s efforts, while commendable, must be complemented by public awareness campaigns and stricter regulations to prevent young people from falling into the trap of online gambling.

Dr. Raden Pardede, an economist and social commentator, noted, “The fight against online gambling is not just a technological battle but a societal one. The government needs to address the root causes, such as economic disparities and lack of recreational activities for the youth.”

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, Kominfo plans to intensify its efforts by leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence to detect and block illegal gambling sites more effectively. The ministry also aims to work closely with other government agencies, international bodies, and technology companies to create a robust and comprehensive strategy against online gambling.

Despite the significant progress made, the road ahead remains challenging. The persistent nature of illegal online gambling demands a multifaceted approach, combining technology, legal measures, and public education.

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