Indonesia Forms Anti-Online Taskforce, Seeks Regional MOUs

April 29, 2024
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Indonesia has announced the formation of a cross-ministerial task force to attack the spread of online gambling and engage regional governments in a “joint effort” at combating illegal operations.
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Indonesia has announced the formation of a cross-ministerial task force to attack the spread of online gambling and engage regional governments in a “joint effort” at combating illegal operations.

Reports by Tempo.com have confirmed that Hadi Tjahjanto, the coordinating minister for politics, law and security, convened a meeting with task force members on Tuesday (April 23).

Among the attendees were communications minister Budi Arie Setiadi, deputy foreign minister Pahala Mansury, attorney general ST Burhanuddin and Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) head Ivan Yustiavandana, it said.

Hadi also referred to a plan to sign memoranda of understandings (MOUs) with Southeast Asian nations to fight online gambling, Tempo reported.

All forms of gambling are currency prohibited in Indonesia, including online.

The Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo) on Thursday (April 25) said in a statement that “synergy and collaboration between ministries and institutions” and public informants are key to “eradicating online gambling”.

Kominfo minister Budi Arie Setiadi told a CNN Indonesia event that online gambling addiction in Indonesia is seeding criminality, especially among young people, and that the ministry has renewed warnings to online platforms.

The ministry has issued “warnings to all social media platforms, mobile operators and internet service providers not to facilitate any form of online gambling promotion”, he said.

In a separate interview on Wednesday, Budi Arie likened enforcement of the law against technologically savvy online operators to “facing ghosts”, and stressed the need to work with neighbouring countries to prevent their gaming licensees from targeting Indonesians.

Foreign minister Retno Marsudi followed up the comments on Friday with a call for a regional “joint effort” to attack online gambling.

“This is a transnational crime, so if we want to eradicate this crime, we need a joint effort: cooperation in nature between countries in the region,” she said in a speech at the State Palace in Jakarta.

PPATK data released last week indicates that 3.2m Indonesians are active on online gambling platforms, with cumulative spend reaching 327trn rupiah ($20bn) in 2023.

Minister Hadi said on Tuesday that online gambling activity in 2023 “shifted massively to alternative links with servers abroad, with online slot gambling being the most popular”.

Even in conservative, Muslim-majority Indonesia, which has the toughest gambling laws in Asia, access to the internet with any device “means that people can gamble online at any time”, he said.

There have been occasional calls in recent years for the government to consider regulation of online gambling as a means of controlling aberrant industry forces, but overwhelming political momentum has boosted punitive strategies.

Indonesia’s Ulema Council, the nation’s peak body for Islamic scholars, warned the public on Monday (April 29) to avoid online gambling, lamenting the “very large and fantastic number” spent on the sector cited by the PPATK.

In a statement carried by state-backed news agency ANTARA, council deputy chairman Anwar Abbas called on the government and the public to work together to fight the industry.

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