Indonesia cuts access to online gambling sites from Cambodia and the Philippines as crime surges

JAKARTA (Bloomberg): Indonesia will cut off access points to websites operating out of Cambodia and Davao City in the Philippines that are suspected of being linked to online gambling.

The Ministry of Communications instructed Indonesia’s telecommunications service providers to shut down lines that could access gambling sites from the two countries, according to a letter published on Monday. Access will be cut off indefinitely.

Online gambling is banned in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Still, an estimated 3.2 million people play online gambling, most of whom are teachers and housewives, according to data from the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center.

The state agency said the total accumulated transactions up to the first quarter of 2024 reached 600 trillion rupiah ($36.5 billion).

State officials have grown increasingly concerned about the spread of online gambling, especially after high-profile cases of crime and suicide caused by gambling addiction and debts.

President Joko Widodo has formed a police task force to clamp down on illegal online gambling operations, and urged religious and community leaders to help report all forms of gambling activities.

Indonesia has shut down more than 2.1 million illegal online gambling sites and dismantled three online gambling syndicate sites with a value of as much as 1.4 trillion rupiah. The government has also reprimanded TikTok, Google, and Meta for displaying gambling ads on their platforms, threatening fines if the practice continues.

South-East Asian countries in recent years have been battling the rapid spread of online gambling, which has been linked to fraud, human trafficking and other illicit activities.

The Philippines banned the wildly popular online cockfighting, while Singapore is investigating some of its biggest lenders amid allegations of money laundering.

-- ©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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