The Financial Services Authority of Indonesia (OJK) has taken decisive action against online gambling by blocking over 1,700 bank accounts involved in illicit activities. With more accounts potentially being targeted, this move demonstrates OJK’s commitment to tackling this issue head-on.

During a recent virtual press conference on October 9, 2023, Dian Ediana Rae, Chief Executive of Banking Supervision at OJK, emphasized the increasing implementation of systems by banks to detect gambling-related transactions, highlighting the seriousness of the problem.

OJK has also urged banks to report these blocked accounts to the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) for further investigation, ensuring a thorough follow-up process.

The PPATK has reported a significant surge in the flow of money through online gambling transactions, reaching Rp81 trillion ($5.4bn) in value in 2022, up from Rp57 trillion in 2021. This alarming increase has highlighted the need for immediate action.

Natsir Kongah, a spokesperson for PPATK, has emphasized the rise in suspicious financial transaction reports relating to online gambling, even involving school children. The number of these reports has skyrocketed from 3,446 in 2021 to 11,222 in 2022.

2023 has continued this worrying trend, with 916 reports in January, 831 reports in February, and 1,096 reports in May alone. It is crucial to address this issue promptly to safeguard our youth and protect our financial systems from exploitation.

OJK’s actions coincide with the rapid growth of the global online gambling industry, which has doubled in size over the past four years, boasting 176 million users and generating over $95bn in revenue in 2023. With an impressive revenue growth rate of approximately 20% each year, online sports betting is leading the way, set to bring in $43.5bn in 2023. Even online casinos have seen significant growth, with revenue increasing from $16.6bn in 2019 to $34.8bn in 2023.

The number of online gamblers continues to rise, with over 80 million new users since 2019, bringing the total to 176 million in 2023. This calls for immediate action to curb the negative consequences associated with online gambling and protect vulnerable individuals from financial harm.

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