South-East Asia is quickly becoming a focal point for global poker, with major gambling hubs in Macau, Hong Kong, Philippines, Australia, and Indonesia. Indonesia’s online poker scene is gaining momentum, driven by its vast population and expats. Multiple poker sites cater to Indonesian players.
The poker industry in Indonesia is on the rise, with new sites regularly emerging to capture an enthusiastic audience. While fully legalized poker in Indonesia may face challenges, the community continues to grow every year.
Indonesia, home to almost 261 million people, has a vast interest in sports betting and poker. Even though live poker might be rare in places like Jakarta, many are keen on online poker. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter are popular avenues for Indonesians to delve into poker and stay updated.
Currently, Indonesia’s sole online poker regulation aims to deter players from joining online sites. However, the Internet has allowed many foreign poker sites to remain accessible in the country. While local language poker sites might be scarce, major international sites can be accessed in English. With the government’s primary focus on sports betting and casinos, online poker might have a short-lived chance in Indonesia.
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In Indonesia, there is a large underground market for online casinos and card games, which the government is working hard to prevent. The Indonesian ministries of Social Affairs, Religious Affairs, and Communications and IT revealed plans in 2012 to ban illicit gaming sites for its population. Despite their best efforts, however, several large gambling sites remain accessible to Indonesian gamers.
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Top Indonesian Poker Players
While North America boasts many elite poker players, talent emerges globally, with Indonesia producing notable names. Among them, John Juanda, an Indonesian/American legend, stands out with an impressive $25 million in live tournament earnings. He holds five World Series of Poker bracelets, a World Series of Poker Europe championship, and victory in the 2017 Triton Poker Macau HK$1,000,000 Main Event, bagging $2,870,092.
Another prominent figure is Darus Suharto, an Indonesian native now in Canada. Known for his sixth-place finish in the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, Suharto, who also works as a Certified Public Accountant in Ontario, has accumulated $2.5 million in tournament earnings. This success places him among poker’s top 300 all-time earners. Other notable Indonesian players include Michael Sampoerna, Sandhy Rafael Sitepu, and Satrya Teja, all showcasing remarkable live poker achievements.
Legal Situation and gambling law in Indonesia
Indonesia, with its majority Muslim population, follows Islamic laws that strictly forbid all gambling, both traditional and online. This includes online poker, which the government actively combats by blocking access to gambling websites and updating a blacklist regularly. The primary laws against gambling are the Penal Code and subsequent regulations.
Authorities frequently raid underground gambling operations. Those involved in these activities risk hefty penalties and imprisonment. Nonetheless, some Indonesian players access offshore poker sites outside the government’s jurisdiction. While these sites aren’t overseen by Indonesian authorities, playing on them from Indonesia remains illegal. Many try to circumvent restrictions using VPNs, but this too is unlawful.
The government also hampers transactions with gambling operations, instructing banks to block and monitor such activities. However, cryptocurrencies provide a global solution for deposits and withdrawals at poker sites.
Despite strict regulations, clandestine gambling activities sometimes transpire in tourist-centric regions like Bali. Still, the associated risks are considerable.