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Gaming-Linked Crime in Macau Continues to Drop

Gaming-Linked Crime in Macau Continues to Drop

Macau recorded 257 gambling-related offenses that ended September 30, down 48.8% year-on-year. The number is well below the 502 crimes recorded in the first nine months of 2021 and comes as the Macau Judicial Police are stepping up efforts to suppress crimes related to gambling operations.

Macau Continues to Fight Gaming-Related Crime

The authorities are careful not to be overly optimistic, however. The real reason for the lack of gaming-related crime may have more to do with a lack of tourists than actual crime-fighting efforts, some police officials say. There have been repeated outbreaks of COVID-19 that have dried up the flow of tourists, mainly from mainland China. Meanwhile, the Macau government has confirmed that the six incumbent casino dealers will retain their licenses by extending them for ten years. However, they would have to refocus their offerings to de-gamble Macau’s economy and invest in non-gambling related activities but tourism in general. 

Police didn’t attribute everything to the drop in visitor numbers, confirming that authorities have been conducting many more inspections of casinos and places near the city. Authorities were able to identify several criminal groups operating in the betting and gambling sphere, but the police acted in time to prevent the crime from spreading. A total of 25 cases of usury against gambling were recorded. These cases involve usury, lending at high-interest rates to vulnerable people. The police authorities registered a total of 65 cases of fraud.

There was also a case of illegal currency exchange activities that led to police arrests of 2,899 people. Still, authorities did not say whether the people were arrested, reprimanded, or charged with a specific offense. In all likelihood, the number of reported gaming-related crimes by 2022 will be low, and a far cry from the 1,372 year-round gaming-related crimes recorded last year. Overall, the number of visitors to Macau fell by 24.2 in the first nine months of 2022.

In the first half of the year, there were 54 cases of casino fraud, down 70 cases from the 124 cases in the first half of 2021. There were also 13 cases of casino theft, down 12 from the same period of the previous year. At the same time, the number of cases of counterfeit chips detected in casinos was just one, involving HK$100,000 chips, compared with 65 cases of HK$2 million in the same period last year, down 98%. There was one homicide, up from two in the previous year. The only case occurred on May 7, when two mainland Chinese women were murdered at the MGM Macau Hotel. After the crime, the killer fled to Hunan province and was arrested by Chinese public security officials on May 17. 

As for the illegal money changers, the police arrested 2,725 people in the year’s first half, a decrease of 39.

1% compared to 4,477 people in the same period last year. However, the security minister pointed out that “most of the money changers are Mainland Chinese, and their number is related to the anti-epidemic policy…there is a gradual trend towards professionalism and cooperation.”

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