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Indonesia vows to crack down on online gambling

Indonesia vows to crack down on online gambling
Indonesia vows to crack down on online gambling


INDONESIA has shut down more than two million websites offering illegal online gambling services, the communications minister said Friday (June 14), saying the activity was drying up the people's blood.

Online gambling is banned in the world's largest Muslim-majority country, but last year more than three million Indonesians engaged in an activity estimated to be worth nearly $20 billion, or about 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, according to government data.

We are waging a universal war against online gambling, Communications Minister Budi Arie Setiadi told Reuters in an interview.

Online gambling is so concerning that it is drying people's blood, Budi said, adding that online gambling weakens family finances and often falls heaviest on women.

This is a phenomenon that represents only the tip of the iceberg.

The issue has attracted more public attention in recent months due to a series of incidents.


Friday, 8:30 a.m.

Asian business

Business outlook focused on the fast-growing economies of Southeast Asia.

Last week, an Indonesian police officer set her husband on fire over a gambling addiction that she said had put them in financial difficulty, according to media reports.

Two months ago, the army said one of its officers had committed suicide due to mounting debts from online gaming.

In addition to shutting down some 2.1 million websites, Budi said authorities had frozen thousands of bank accounts and would soon formally set up a task force.

Most of the servers used by gambling sites come from Cambodia and thousands of Indonesians work there to operate them, Budi said, without immediately providing evidence.

Economic blow

Economists say the growing popularity of gambling in Indonesia, particularly among lower-income groups, hurts long-term productivity and locks people into poverty.

Authorities have also blamed gambling addiction for increased crime in some areas, higher divorce rates and more Indonesians taking out high-interest loans.

On a macro level, online gambling encourages a lack of productivity, said Mohammad Faisal, an economist at the Jakarta-based Center for Economic Reform.

On Wednesday, Indonesia's outgoing President Joko Widodo pledged to launch a task force to tackle the problem.

The game isn't just betting on money, he said. Bet on the future, whether it is yours, that of your family or that of your children.

The problem is by no means limited to Indonesia.

China, where gambling is banned, on Friday urged the Philippines to eliminate overseas gambling, describing the industry as a social scourge that encourages crimes such as kidnapping, drug trafficking human beings and murder. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said illegal gambling operators, some of which are run by Chinese companies, could pose a national security risk. REUTERS




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