Gaming-related crimes in Macau nearly tripled y-o-y in 2023

Macau recorded 2,717 “gaming-related” crimes in full-year 2023, up 181.6 percent on the 965 identified in the previous year, according to the latest statistics published on Tuesday by the city’s Judiciary Police. The figure was down 49.9 percent from 2019, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figures for 2023 include 1,107 inquiries and complaints, up 198.4 percent year-on-year, but a 48.7-percent decline compared to 2019, showed the data.

The authorities recorded a total of 119 usury cases – i.e., loan sharking – related to gambling, a 260.6-percent increase compared to 33 such instances a year earlier. In 2023, the police handled 33 unlawful-detention cases, as compared to just one such case in 2022.

A total of 257 fraud cases related to gaming was recorded in full-year 2023, up 198.8 percent year-on-year, showed the data.

The authorities said the increase in gaming-linked crimes was mainly the result of a rising number of tourists during 2023, following the relaxation of Covid-related restrictions in January last year.

The police stated “2023 was the year in which the Macau gaming sector entered a new phase. With the significant increase in the number of tourists, the Judiciary Police carried out a rigorous prevention plan to tackle the return of gambling-related crimes.”

Sit Chong Meng, director of the Judiciary Police, said in a Tuesday press conference that crime linked to gambling demonstrated three notable features last year.

“Serious gambling crimes decreased significantly” compared to the period before the pandemic, and “serious [gaming-related] crimes, such as under-the-table bets and money laundering basically disappeared”, he stated.

But illicit exchange of money for gambling “remains active and constitutes a serious risk to security in the surrounding areas of casinos”, added Mr Sit.

The authorities said they “intercepted” more than 11,000 people involved in illicit money exchange activities in the year to December 31. They also liaised with the Macau gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, to ban 2,048 people linked to those activities from entering the city’s casinos.

In full-year 2023, the city’s Judiciary Police recorded an aggregate of 12,390 crimes, a 43.9-percent increase from the previous year, but down 20.5 percent compared to 2019.

BY: 온라인카지노

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