Although Macau’s VIP gambling revenue may be subsiding, casino-related crime is going up, according to the special administrative region’s security chief.
Macau Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak announced on Monday that the total number of local crimes had remained fairly stable over the first nine months of 2019, increasing only 0.4% from the same period last year.
But gaming-related crimes increased 19.5% to 1,599, with so-called ‘scams’ increased by two-thirds to 291. Wong explained that gaming-related scams mainly involved illegal money exchanges which never delivered as promised or paid customers in fake currency.
However, casino operators weren’t safe, as many scammers tried to pass fake casino chips or plotted with table dealers to make sure they were paid out higher winnings than they were actually owned.
As mentioned on the Calvinayre.com website, there were 471 incidents of gaming-related loan-sharking, a 20.8% year-on-year increase. Also, Macau police recorded 274 cases (+25.7%) of gaming-related illegal custodies – usually concerning outfits which advance gamblers money then hold them hostage until they can make arrangements with relatives on the mainland to forward the borrowed sums (plus interest).
Robberies rose nearly 30% to 61, with most of the thefts occuring in and around hotels. Wong tried to reassure local residents by stressing that the majority of victims of gaming-related crime were visitors to Macau.
Although it all sounds gloomy, the overall surge in gaming-related crime is partially a reflection of the authorities making their presence felt at local casinos. Wong said in the first nine months of 2019. the Judiciary Police and Public Security Police made 2,317 patrols at casinos, almost double the number made during the same period last year.
Currently Macau is rolling out its new Sky Eye video surveillance system, with about 800 cameras set to be fitted in public spaces by the first quarter of 2020. Macau expects to have up to 2,600 cameras monitoring the movements of Macau’s residents and visitors by 2023.