Comprising more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a paradise with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Its natural beauty, among other sights and delights, attracts more than 5.5 million tourists annually.
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The fourth most populous nation in the world offers many unique sightseeing experiences, including world-famous beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and a variety of active volcanoes. However, if you enjoy the thrill of gambling, you may be disappointed.
Indonesia enforces strict law enforcement for gambling among its citizens—and for tourists, these same rules apply. So, if you plan on visiting Indonesia, here’s what you need to know about the region’s laws on gambling.
According to Article 303 of the Indonesian Penal Code, all forms of gambling are fully prohibited throughout the country. This includes everything from casino games to bingo and lotteries and all online betting platforms, including online casinos and sportsbooks.
Although many international tourists may find these laws rather excessive, there is a valid reason for them. More than 85% of the population of Indonesia are Muslims, and the Islamic faith believes that gambling is a grave sin.
Although the government previously attempted to introduce limited forms of gambling with the creation of a state lottery, this was strongly opposed by Muslim activists. As such, the lottery was quickly shut down, and all further talk of introducing gambling was silenced.
Punishment for Gambling
Due to the complete prohibition of gambling and the country’s strong enforcement of it, it is no surprise that the punishment for being caught engaging in gambling activities is severe. However, discipline does tend to vary slightly depending on what region of Indonesia you are caught engaging in a cheeky wager.
In most regions, getting caught gambling or providing services that allow others to place wagers will result in imprisonment. These sentences can vary from three to five years, and there is generally no option to escape incarceration with bail—even a hefty one.
However, punishments are more severe in regions like the province of Aceh. Known for its conservatism, this province publicly admonishes those caught engaging in gambling with a corporal penalty—often in the form of public flogging.
Regarding online gambling, laws are similar to physical gambling establishments. Many countries internationally may outlaw physical gambling but allow residents to gamble online with providers that are based outside of the region.
Generally, this is because the country has no specific law that prevents online gambling—or the country may have loopholes in the law that players exploit to gain access to these platforms. Operators are known for accepting players from these markets because they face little competition from physical casinos within the region.
In Indonesia, things are slightly different. Here, the government has the motivation and resources to actively block gambling in every possible form—including online services provided by anyone outside the country.
As such, the government screens internet traffic and websites accessible by residents and visitors to the region. Launching a massive drive to eradicate these services in 2018, the country has successfully blocked more than 5,000 gambling websites. However, some of these sites are gambling resource sites that simply direct users to online casinos; they are not actual gambling sites themselves.
Many of the sites that the government has successfully banned have been found through advertisements those sites run to attract players. All advertising provided to online users in the country is screened by local authorities before being aired.
Although many try to use social media as a loophole, the government actively blocks gambling content there as well. Using algorithms and community reports, the government has blocked more than 846,014 pieces of gambling-related content since it began doing so.
These blocks are incredibly efficient. On average, advertisements are taken down two to three hours after being reported to the authorities. In rare cases, ads are live for 24 hours before being removed.
In addition, any social media platform that refuses to partner with key government agencies to reduce or eliminate gambling content is punished with sanctions. The sanctions enforced may include not being allowed to offer services or only providing scaled-back options.
Apart from reports from other residents, the government also has the ability to track potential gambling-related finances. Banks in the country report any account suspected of gambling to the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, which investigates and prosecutes the allegations accordingly.
In just the first six months of 2023, more than 1,900 bank accounts were reported and investigated. This has helped the government locate and eradicate any gambling activity—especially those occurring online, which rely on bank transactions rather than cash.
Despite the restrictions imposed by the Muslim faith and government, gambling has a rich history in the culture of Indonesia. As such, many would love nothing more than to discover symbols in Bonanza demo, place a bet on a hand of poker, or try to predict the outcome of an upcoming sports event.
In the pre-1500s era, the Islamic government saw an increase in the country’s widespread gambling and decided to eradicate it. Because of this history, there is still a great deal of illegal gambling that occurs in the region despite the government actively banning it.
Between 2017 and 2022, it is estimated that more than $12 billion was spent on illegal gambling activity in the country. This rate is only expected to grow as online gambling becomes more challenging to track and crypto gambling opens new avenues to anonymous players.
If this growth increases beyond the government’s control, perhaps local laws will one day be revised to embrace the new booming industry. As it stands now, though, the gambling bans are very strictly enforced and punishable by law, so if you are a gambler planning to visit Indonesia, hold off on seeking it out until you’re back home.