Gambling is famously illegal in Indonesia, mainly because it is forbidden in the Koran. Despite this, millions of Indonesians still love to bet or gamble, especially among the non-Muslim population.

To satisfy their craving, some underground casinos used to operate under the radar until the early 2000s. Most of them have now disappeared as social media and the internet have made it almost impossible for them to hide from the public eye. Moreover, it has become easier and less risky for Indonesians to gamble without having to go to an illegal venue.

Some Indonesians just choose to go to neighboring countries where gambling is legal, such as Malaysia or Singapore. Others, especially the younger generation, have moved to the online world. Gambling websites are blocked by the Indonesian government, but they can easily be accessed with a VPN. The largest and most popular ones, such as Garuda Game gather tens of thousands of users, enabling them to play dozens of different games.
Several factors can explain their success: Of course, in a country where it is almost impossible to go to a casino, any alternative will draw plenty of interest from gamblers. But it is not the only reason.

Online gambling is actually a lot of fun, sometimes even more than the real thing. One thing to understand is that being "online" doesn't mean "fake". When you play poker online, for instance, you will play against real people and not against a computer. Your odds of winning and the rules of the games are the same as they would be in a real-life casino. Idem if you are into sports betting: You can place your bets on real games, then watch them with a group of friends. The best sports for that are usually UFC fights or football games.

If you are a beginner, you will find online gambling less intimidating than real casinos as you can practice without being watched by others. You can start small, with a deposit of only a few thousand rupiahs, and bet tiny amounts of money until you feel more confident. It is very common to be given bonuses when you deposit money, sometimes up to 100% of your initial amount (meaning that if you deposit 50, you get another 50 for free).

The number of games available online can't be beaten by any brick-and-mortar casino. The website I mentioned earlier, Garuda Game, gives you access to hundreds of games. Not all of them are readily available on the website, though, as you will sometimes have to download a specific program on your computer or on your phone before playing. Then, you will launch a platform that can connect you to other players around the world.
In the case of Garuda Game, you will get access to some famous platforms:

- Sbobet (where you can bet on thousands of international sports competitions)
- Pragmatic Play, Wan Mei, and Gameplay Interactive (online casinos using virtual reality)
- Habanero, Joker, and Spade Machines (among others, for slots machines)
- Gudang Poker (a platform to play poker for Indonesians)

Finally, online gambling is convenient as you can just play from the comfort of your home, either from your laptop or your phone. You don't need to dress up or to travel to feel the thrill of gambling. You also don't need to worry about cash as it is easy to pay online with bank transfers (in the case of Garuda Game, local banks such as BCA, Mandiri, BNI, BRI, or CIMB Niaga are accepted). During this time of Covid-19 pandemic, it is also a safe way to gamble without worrying about social distancing.

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