Jakarta (ANTARA) - The central government will set up an integrated online gambling eradication task force in the next one week to root out online gambling nationwide.

"In law, gambling is illegal. Thus, bolstering the (eradication) measures needs to be made effectively," Communications and Informatics Minister Budi Arie Setiadi said after attending a meeting with President Joko Widodo on online gambling at the Presidential Palace here on Thursday.

He affirmed that his ministry will focus on removing online gambling sites, while the enforcement aspect will be under the authority of law enforcement officials.

Based on data from the Center for Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis (PPATK), the total circulation of money from online gambling in 2023 reached Rp327 trillion (around US$20.19 billion).

This finding is concerning because many people who are engaged in online gambling are from the low-income group, he said.

"This year alone, four people committed suicide due to online gambling. Therefore, this country must be serious (in tackling the issue). In the next one week, there will be dramatic steps taken. If necessary, just arrest the bookies," he added.

Meanwhile, chair of the board of commissioners of the Financial Services Authority (OJK), Mahendra Siregar, said that from late 2023 until March 2024, the OJK blocked around 5 thousand bank accounts linked to online gambling activities.

However, the elimination of sites and blocking of bank accounts are not enough to completely stamp out online gambling, which is a transnational issue, he added.

He explained that some online gambling activities are not carried out within the country but across borders. There are also cases where such activities do not involve bank accounts, he added.

"To this end, layer by layer, the eradication must be completed so that there is no empty space that continues to exist because we can see that the root problem has not been resolved completely," Siregar said.

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Translator: Yashinta Difa, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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