Jakarta (ANTARA) - After learning about online gambling disguised as online games from a work friend in 2020, Ujang (34), has not been able to completely break his addiction to gambling.

His mind is preoccupied with online gambling. If he is not busy with work, the father of three children escapes into gambling, which earned him a lot of money in the beginning.

In fact, it was the initial winnings that got him hooked to online gambling: when, in just 30 minutes, with a deposit of Rp100 thousand, he got Rp500 thousand in winnings from the bookie.

Though he no longer gambles as often as he did at the beginning, Ujang still cannot resist playing slots. That desire arises especially if, in the work environment, he meets people who are keen on playing slots, too.

"It’s not just workers (like me) who gamble, but also security members," he told ANTARA in Jakarta.

"I ever played it, so I know very well the games that other people play are online gambling," he added.

Ease of access, payment systems, and environmental influences are factors that are stoking a massive wave of online gambling in Indonesia currently.

While conventional gambling took place in open areas, often secretly, and involved a number of people, online gambling via online games doesn't require players to interact directly or go outside.

Now, players can gamble online from their room, home, or the toilet.

The deposit payment system has also made it easier to gamble online. There is no need for bank transfers, they can use e-wallets or credit, and several online sites abroad use a deposit system via cryptocurrency.

Over time, Ujang has realized that gambling does not have any positive sides.

Online gambling is targeting all levels of society, both low-income and rich people, and even employees or officials with government agencies.

Ujang has experienced the negative impact of online gambling, such as not being able to focus on work, reduced performance, and quarrels at home.

Gambling emergency

According to the government, Indonesia has currently entered an "online" gambling emergency. The Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo) and the National Police (Polri) have aligned their efforts to deal with this situation.

Multi-party collaboration is needed to handle and curb the practice of online gambling in Indonesia, so that it no longer harms the society and the country.

For this, all parties and elements of society need to work together. Indonesia's young generation must be saved from this problem.

People are using up to Rp27 trillion every year to slot gambling. The victims are from all levels of society, and particularly include low-income people, and even children, who want to make a quick buck.​​​​​​​

Polri said that the dangers of online gambling and addiction are almost the same as drug addiction and can affect people's mental health by causing stress, depression, and anxiety, and lead them to commit other crimes.

For this reason, Polri is supporting Kominfo in jointly eradicating online gambling through law enforcement efforts.

Since 2022, the Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) of Polri and regional police (Polda) have uncovered 610 cases of online gambling and arrested 760 people, and this year, 75 cases have been uncovered and 106 suspects arrested.

Community support

Generally, people are unaware that online gambling winnings are arranged by bookies, and the probability of winning is only 20 percent. Therefore, if you participate in online gambling, you are guaranteed to lose because that is how it is designed.

To entice players, bookies use an algorithm that allows new players to win, but after they get addicted, they start finding winning difficult.

Law enforcement and blocking are not enough to prevent online gambling. This is evidenced by the fact, that Kominfo has blocked 846,047 online gambling sites in the period from 2018–19 to July 2023.

A week after Budi Arie Setiadi took office as Minister of Communication and Informatics on July 17 this year, 11,333 online gambling content was blocked.

Kominfo also received complaints of misuse of banking accounts for online gambling content. During the period from January to July 17, 2023, the number of complaints was 1,859.

According to the police, online gambling perpetrators have IT teams. If their website is blocked by the government, then they shift websites.

The police are also investigating new findings and will report them to Kominfo for further study.

The role of the community is vital for eradicating online gambling because the methods and motives used by perpetrators have continued to evolve.

The public has been advised to report activities involving many people (more than 20) in a luxury house with computer equipment, or suspected online gambling practices.

However, not all these things indicate online gambling because they could easily point to other online activities.​​​​​​​

Polri is using some special strategies to follow up on reports from the public and ensure the authorities are not careless in their actions.

Reports from the public are investigated and officers look at the bandwidth of internet usage of suspicious houses. If the internet bills at a house are quite large in a month, it indicates a business using internet services is being run out of the house.

Enforcement and education

No matter how many online gambling sites there are, if people are not tempted to play, then online gamblers will naturally lose.

The state has prohibited gambling through Law Number 7 of 1974 regarding the Control of Gambling.

The Criminal Code (KUHP) and ITE Law prescribe criminal sanctions not only for organizers, but also online gambling players.

The negative impact of gambling on society has led the Polri to firmly eradicate online gambling by targeting artists, influencers, and celebrities (selebgram) promoting online gambling.

Ujang said that online gambling promotions involving artists, influencers, and celebrities were among the things that influenced him to play online games.

Promotion by an artist, who described a certain site as an official and certified website that could help make money quickly, also influenced him.

Polri is listing all those people who are promoting online games and asking for clarification. If they are found to be indulging in online gambling activities, they can face punishment.

Polri is continuously appealing to artists, influencers, and selebgram to stop promoting online games.

Public education is the most important thing for preventing and eradicating online gambling.

Besides the law, religious and societal norms also prohibit gambling. Online games that tend to give out prizes are not educational games.

If you look at the history of gambling, there is no bookie who is willing to lose money. It is usually the gambles who stand to lose from the practice. Usually, people only become aware of this after experiencing major and repeated setbacks.

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Editor: Sri Haryati
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