Macau gaming-related crimes are up 19.5 percent January through September 2019. But officials in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) say that’s only due to better law enforcement operations.
Macau Security Secretary Wong Sio Chak revealed at a press conference Monday that the Judiciary Police and Public Security Police collectively made 1,599 arrests on criminal allegations linked to the enclave’s gaming industry. That’s 261 more cases than in the same nine-month period in 2018.
GGRAsia was first to translate the data for English media. Any sort of alleged crime that occurs on a casino resort property is included in the law enforcement numbers.
The report shows that police continue to crack down on crime. In the first three months of 2019, gaming-related crimes were up 14 percent.
“Our efforts have led to a crackdown on several criminal groups, and we believe this is a main reason for the rise,” Wong explained.
The security chief says police have greatly upped the number of patrols carried out as casino venues. The increased monitoring has led to better apprehension of those thought to be engaged in unlawful activities.
Macau is the richest casino hub on the planet, the six licensed operators winning $37.85 billion on their floors last year. Casinos and crime have long gone hand-in-hand, despite the gaming venues being some of the most surveilled and secured businesses in the world.
Money laundering, scams, theft, and loan-sharking are common crimes in Macau. Wong reported that of the 1,599 criminal cases, 471 – or almost 30 percent – were related to loan-sharking.
Investopedia defines a loan shark as someone who “loans money at extremely high interest rates and often uses threats of violence to collect debts. The interest rates are generally well above an established legal rate, and often loan sharks are members of organized crime groups.”
The 471 total is a 21 percent increase. Macau officials said the majority of those apprehended on loan- sharking suspicions were foreigners.
Not included in the January through September Macau crime data was an arrest made this week in Cotai involving two alleged criminals.
Judiciary Police say a mainland resident working in an illegal currency exchange was contacted by another man from the mainland who said he was interested in exchanging money. The suspect told the victim that he won 180,000 Hong Kong dollars gambling and wanted to exchange the money into 161,000 Chinese yuan ($22,890).
The suspect – aka “customer” of the illegal exchange – met the victim in a Cotai Strip hotel room. After receiving the yuan wire to his bank account, the individual presented a large bag of what he claimed to hold the Hong Kong money, and quickly exited.
Suspicious, the victim called hotel security and instructed them not let the person leave. After opening the bag, he discovered it was filled with toilet paper. Judiciary Police met with both individuals, and are investigating the case.