According to statistics issued by Macau’s Office of the Secretary for Security, crime related to gambling operations increased significantly in the first quarter of 2023. During this time period, the famous gaming destination registered 158 occurrences of gaming-related crime, a 24 percent rise over the same period last year.
Decrease since the Pandemic Era
Despite the recent rise, the numbers show a decrease in gaming-related crime since the Pandemic Era. According to the data supplied, the current numbers show a significant decline of 64% over the previous four years when compared to 2019.
Factors Contributing to the Rise
Authorities attribute the recent increase in gaming-related crime to the reopening of gambling facilities following the closure of Covid. As per reports, the ease of cross-border laws adopted on January 8, 2023, led in a swift influx of visitors to Macau and a steady recovery of the city’s gaming business.
Cases of Fraud and Loan Sharking
The increase in visitor numbers has also raised the likelihood of criminal activity. The first quarter of 2023 saw 40 gaming-related fraud cases, a 17.6 percent rise over Q1 2022. However, compared to the same period previous year, the number of gambling-related loan sharking instances fell by half.
According to official sources, criminal offences related to gaming operations during the observed period included individuals barred from visiting resorts (28 cases), gaming-related thefts (28 cases), and “illegitimate appropriation” (19 cases). These figures outperformed those of the previous year’s quarter by a factor of 25 to 210.
Concentrate on Money Exchange Fraud
To address these concerns, officials worked with the six concessionaires to improve police inspections of gambling establishments. The Office of the Secretary of Security specifically targeted unlawful money exchange activities involving mainland Chinese gaming groups.
Detection of Money Exchange operations
The Office identified 3,655 individuals participating in such operations during the first three months of 2023. While this statistic marks a 79 percent increase over the previous year, authorities claim that linked crimes did not increase much. The majority of those involved were from the Chinese mainland, indicating a more professional tendency and group engagement.
Market Growth and Crime Rate
In the first quarter of 2023, Macau saw a total of 3,006 criminal cases, a 17 percent rise over the same period previous year. As the city recovers from the pandemic, it reaps tremendous rewards. However, this expansion has drawn individuals looking to capitalize on the thriving sector. As Macau expands, the authorities anticipate an increase in gaming-related fraud and have been working closely with operators to prevent and resolve such crimes.
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