The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has entered the quarterfinal stage. Brazil and France have become the most favorite team to lift up the coveted trophy. Indonesia, despite its national team has never reached the World Cup, is not an exception. The country has 69% of its 270 million population as soccer lovers, according to databoks.katadata.co.id.
Soccer has always been related to gambling phenomenon, with large sums of money being circulated. The government has tried to crack down online gambling sites but the phenomenon is still ongoing.
According to world soccer body FIFA, around 250 million people worldwide play soccer and over 1.3 billion people are interested in the game. In 2010, a combined television audience of more than 26 billion was counted during the World Cup.
Gambling in soccer industry
As the most popular sport in the world, a considerable volume of matches has helped the industry to grow but also gambling on the market. With the rise of digitalized platforms, comes the rise of online gambling.
In general, gambling works by odds being set by the bookmaker that represents the ratio between the stake, and winnings after the outcome are realized and if you wish to put a bet. They can be shown as fractions, decimals, or whatever you prefer.
All of the four interviewees knew about online soccer gambling from their friends. One of them put the bet due to the ongoing World Cup.
“Because of the world cup, it [gambling] has become more often,” the interviewee, who requested anonymity, told Indonesia Business Post on December 8, 2022.
Another interviewee, who refused to reveal his identity, said on December 7, 2022, that gambling was about transferring money, and how much we could put up. “If you win IDR 100,000, you will get IDR 300,000. But if you lose IDR 100,000, it’s gone,” he said.
Since the regulations prohibit gambling, most Indonesians would use agents or foreign gambling sites.
“There are servers in Indonesia and abroad, but, everything is controlled from abroad,” said another interviewee during an interview on December 8, 2022.
“Soccer betting agent site such as zpopk.pl, most of them are from Sbobet. Sbobet is international. So Indonesians, if they do not understand, they will use agents,” said another interviewee. “I like it because at first I won, but after I lost I don’t play anymore.”
According to him, he lost more often than won with a ratio of 2:3 from a dozen matches. He considered there was no cheating in Sbobet since it is played LIVE during the match and a poll system is present, which will be closed once the game started. He also considered that the poll system is like a vote, it is a bit like trading.
The internet has provided a wide range of soccer gambling sites such as:
- and others.
Online gambling phenomenon
As the government labels gambling illegal, gamblers flock online to avoid the law. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology regulates these gambling sites and have blocked many of them.
Online gambling activities are regulated in Article 27 paragraph 2 in lieu of Article 45 paragraph 2 of the ITE Law, which threatens parties who intentionally distribute or make online gambling accessible, with a maximum imprisonment of 6 years and/or a maximum fine of IDR 1 billion. Article 303 of the Criminal Code also threatens gamblers with a maximum imprisonment of 4 years and/or a maximum criminal fine of IDR 10 million.
“We had once been raided by the police, and we had to deposit a lot of money, it could be millions or billions,” said one of the interviewees.
From 2018 to 2022, the information ministry blocked 566,332 digital contents that has gambling elements:
- 2018: 84,484 contents
- 2019: 78,306 contents
- 2020: 80,305 contents
- 2021: 204,917 contents
- 2022 (until August 22, 2022): 118,320 contents.
“Many soccer fans are betting because they try to earn their luck… There are so many requests and it has been for a long time,” said one of the interviewees.
“I have never played [at] local [site] because it’s illegal in Indonesia. But there is a forum in Indonesia [on online betting] but I do not know if it is been blocked or not,” another interviewee said.
As a comparison, Malaysia closed down 4,799 gambling-related contents in 2018. Meanwhile, in 2019, the Malaysian Police dismantled an online gambling syndicate and arrested 16 Indonesian citizens.
In 2017, Vietnam dismantled online gambling worth US$ 13 million. While in 2019, Vietnam captured hundreds of Chinese citizens that were involved in one of the biggest gambling syndicates.
In 2022, there are 3 Indonesian soccer clubs that have been reported to the authorities regarding gambling advertisements. The clubs are Arema FC, Persikabo 1973, and PSIS Semarang. The clubs have been charged with criminal offenses related to gambling. This violation is based on article 45 paragraph 2 of Law No. 19/2016 concerning Amendments to Law No. 11/2008 concerning Information and Electronic Transactions junto article 303 of the Criminal Code.
Indonesia soccer gambling history
The soccer gambling phenomenon in Indonesia began in the 1985 when the government launched gambling lottery called Pekan Olahraga Ketangkasan (Porkas).
Porkas was legalized by the New Order government. It was a type of lottery that draws and bets practices in sports, mainly soccer. It was legalized because the government said it only guess on win, draw or lose, and not scores. Therefore, it could not be said as gambling.
Porkas were then used as a form of withdrawing funds from the public through coupons and drawn to get prizes; The collected funds at that time were very large and were used to finance the Galatama soccer competition, which was managed by the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI).
However, with the emergence of many student demonstrations in Indonesia in 1993, Porkas was officially closed down.
The circulation of money in soccer industry in Indonesia has economic potential. It can be in the television broadcasting rights or streaming services during League 1 and sales of tickets and merchandises.
According to a study from the Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM) at the University of Indonesia (UI), the economic potential could be lost if League 1 matches were stopped. The potential lose could reach IDR 2.7 trillion from the amount of match income as well as other sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, to agriculture. Also, the estimated economic income from hosting live matches could be up to IDR 1.37 trillion.
Meanwhile, according to Head of LPEM’s Business Climate and Global Value Chain Study of UI’s School of Economics of Business, Mohamad Dian Revindo, the economic potential could be in the form of direct and indirect studies before the pandemic. For direct potential worth IDR 650 billion, which is obtained through ticket sales, food and drink, transportation, and merchandise.
Television and streaming rights are also important factors in the circulation of money in soccer. Revenue from advertising and sponsorship can reach IDR 720 billion.
This huge cash flow was coupled with the enthusiastic attitude of Indonesian fans, but this was before the pandemic occurred, said Revindo.
The Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) has hoped that the police would investigate online gambling and gambling advertisements through the League 1 soccer competition.
“I have ordered the police to follow up the investigation of online or offline gambling,” said National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit on August 18, 2022.
However, just like what one of the interviewees said: “Many soccer fans are gambling because they try to earn their luck.” If they are still lucky, they will keep trying.