The overall level of criminality in Macau linked to the gaming industry in the first three quarters of 2023 remains at levels below those of pre-pandemic times, the city’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, revealed in a press conference.
According to the city’s police authorities, as normal tourism flows resumed the number of gaming-related crimes in the Macau SAR has grown, rising almost 180 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2023.
Still, it remained lower than the levels of gaming-linked criminal activities reported in 2019, before the pandemic ravaged the city’s tourism and gaming industry.
‘Data show that traditional gambling-related crimes, such as loan sharking and kidnapping, have increased. However, they showed a significant drop in proportion in the total number, compared to the pre-pandemic period, from almost half compared to the first three quarters of 2019, to almost 10 percent in the same period this year,’ SAR police authorities revealed.
At the same time, crimes of fraud, theft and illegitimate appropriation showed a clear increase, both in quantity and proportion, reaching almost 20 percent of the scope of the total number of crimes.
A total of 155 scams were reported, a 138.5 percent year-on-year rise, with theft cases jumping 486 percent to 129 cases.
Some 67 cases loan sharking cases were reported between January and September 2023, representing an increase of 168 percent, but much lower than the 404 cases reported in the same period in 2019.
A total of 12 kidnapping cases were also registered, while only one was reported in same period of the previous year, with 2019 having seen almost 273 cases.
According to data from the Macau Judiciary Police (PJ), in the first 3 quarters of 2023 there were 716 criminal investigations registered, an increase of 178.6 percent year-on-year, but, compared to the first three quarters of 2019, there was a reduction of 55.2 percent.
Police in the city attributed the lower criminality levels to a reinforcement of patrols in casinos and peripheral areas, together with joint operations carried out to combat large-scale crime.
To fight illegal currency exchange operations, for example, the PJ introduced an intelligent patrol system and created a joint group dedicated to tackling this type of illegal activity in close cooperation with the Public Security Force of Macau and gaming operators.
Police authorities also carried out in-depth research and presented suggestions to the legal services on the feasibility of criminalizing illegal money exchange activities to increase the penalty for these infractions
Non-residents from mainland China still represented the majority of total suspects and victims of gambling-related crimes, with some 565 mainland Chinese suspects detained and 369 mainland Chinese victims registered in the three quarters under review.