Macau Reports Increase in 2023 Gaming Related Crimes
- Gaming-related crimes in Macau jumped to over 2,700 in 2023, from 965 in 2022
- Macau claims the increase is due to COVID-19 restrictions being removed
Macau reported a rise in gaming-related crimes in 2023, with the city recording more than 2,700 cases throughout the year, compared to 965 in 2022. The jump is mainly attributed to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions which allowed casinos to return to normal operations, according to authorities.
Increase Expected as Casino Operations Return to Normal
Macau’s Judiciary Police this week released its latest report on gaming-related crime with a total of 2,717 recorded in 2023. That represents an 181.6% increase from the 965 in 2022. Inquiries and complaints make up most of the cases at 1,107, up 198.4 from the previous year.
The biggest jumps were recorded in usury and unlawful detention cases, based on the latest figures. Usury cases, which usually involve loan sharking, account for 119 of the total figure, an increase of 260.6% on the 33 recorded in 2022. Unlawful detention cases jumped from just one in 2022 to 33 in 2023. Fraud cases increased by 198.8% to 257 in the past year.
The increase in gaming-related crime was expected, as COVID-19 restrictions were all lifted in 2023, leading to a rise in tourist numbers. Authorities said 2023 was the year when the city’s gaming industry entered a “new phase”, and so the police stepped up their efforts to address the anticipated return of crimes linked to gambling.
Such efforts have paid off, as serious gambling crimes dropped significantly compared to 2019, and crimes such as money laundering and under-the-table bets basically disappeared, according to Sit Chong Meng, director of the Judiciary Police.
However, authorities are still struggling to curb the illicit exchange of money for gambling. Mr. Sit said such activities have persisted, posing a serious risk in the surrounding areas of casinos. Throughout 2023, police intercepted over 11,000 people engaged in illegal money exchange, with 2,048 individuals now banned from entering casinos.