Macau Reports Increase in Gaming-Related Crime in First Quarter of 2023

Macau Reports Increase in Gaming-Related Crime in First Quarter of 2023 June 9, 2023 June 9, 2023 David Walker
 General June 9, 2023 by David Walker

Macau Judiciary PoliceSummary:

  • Macau’s gaming-related crime for the first quarter of 2023 was up 24.4% year-on-year
  • The increase is mainly due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in mainland China
  • The rise in gaming-linked crime is expected as Macau’s casino industry continues to recover

Macau reported a rise in gaming-related crime in the region in the first quarter of 2023. From January to March this year, the number of gaming-related crimes stood at 158, representing a 24.4 percent year-on-year jump.

Authorities attribute the increase to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions which paved the way for the recovery of Macau’s gaming market.

Rise in Gaming-Linked Crime Mainly Due to Reopening of Borders

Fraud cases accounted for 40 of the total gaming-linked crimes recorded in the first three months of the year, an increase of 17.6 percent from 1Q of 2022. The latest statistics also show that 28 people banned from Macau casinos attempted to enter the city’s gaming venues but were intercepted by authorities. This figure represented an increase of 211.1 percent from the same period last year.

Gaming thefts rose by 144.4 percent to 22 from January to March 2023, with cases related to illegitimate appropriation also up by 26.7 percent to 19 in the first quarter of the year.

Macau also recorded an increase in illegal money exchange activities within the gaming sector, the majority of which were perpetrated by groups from mainland China. Investigation into such activities led to the arrests of 3,655 people between January and March, a year-on-year rise of 78.4 percent. Authorities noted though that there was no significant increase in associated crimes.

Meanwhile, the city recorded just five gaming-linked usury cases, such as loan sharking, a drop of 50 percent from the prior-year period.

The Office of the Secretary for Security stated that the rise in gaming-linked crime is brought about by the reopening of borders, allowing visitors, including those from mainland China, to travel to Macau. Since pandemic-related restrictions were lifted at the start of 2023, the city’s gaming sector has been recovering gradually, with casino revenues bouncing back from record-low figures.

Crime Increase Expected as Gaming Sector Recovers

Police earlier this year had anticipated an increase in crime within the gaming industry as it continues to recover from the pandemic. In particular, authorities were bracing for a return of illicit currency exchange activities, which have been a major problem at the city’s casinos even before COVID-19.

Security officials acknowledged that the recovery of Macau’s gaming sector comes with an uptick in security risks. To combat crime, police have reinforced the number of inspections in gaming venues and surrounding areas and have increased cooperation with Macau’s six casino concessionaires since the start of the year.

David WalkerAuthor

David is our resident 'down under' contributor, letting us know what is going on in the southern hemisphere, he is also keen blackjack player