Macau Reports More Than 200% Rise in Illicit Money-Changing from Jan to Sep 2023

Macau Reports More Than 200% Rise in Illicit Money-Changing from Jan to Sep 2023 November 28, 2023 November 28, 2023 Carolyn Dutton
 General November 28, 2023 by Carolyn Dutton

Macau illegal money changingSummary:

  • Macau officials apprehended nearly 10,000 individuals allegedly engaged in illegal money-changing
  • Most of this illegal money-changing takes place near Macau’s casinos
  • The Macau government has yet to consider a legal remedy for the problem

Macau has reported a massive increase in cases related to illegal money-changing in the first nine months of 2023, with the number up 232% from the same period last year.

The unauthorized activity, which mostly takes place near or at casinos, has become rampant in the city over the years, prompting operators to strengthen their security with support from law enforcement agencies.

Nearly 10K Suspects Apprehended So Far in 2023

Addressing a recent Legislative Assembly session to discuss Macau’s Policy Address for fiscal year 2024, the city’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak revealed that from January to September this year, a total of 9,633 individuals were apprehended by local authorities for alleged involvement in illicit money changing. That figure represents an increase of around 232% from the 2,899 apprehended in the same period in 2022.

The spike in the illegal activity coincides with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the resumption of travel in and out of Macau, Secretary Wong noted.

Over the past few years, the Macau government has stepped up its fight against illegal money changers by allowing the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), the city’s casino regulator, to also help in the detection and interception of such activities.

The Judiciary Police and Public Security Police previously had sole responsibility in this area, but now the DICJ and the casino operators are involved in spotting illicit money touts, Secretary Wong said.

Illicit Money-Changing Remains an Administrative Offense

As illegal money-changing continues in Macau, the government has yet to consider a long-term solution to the problem. There were plans to include it in new amendments to the Illegal Gambling Regime, known as Law No. 8/96/M, but it was eventually dropped as the issue should be examined within the “framework of the financial system”, as previously stated by Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon.

Unauthorized money-changing is currently not a criminal offense in Macau. It is only punishable as an administrative offense. When asked about how the government plans to tackle the problem, Secretary Wong said they have already communicated with the administrative and justice departments and will submit a legal proposal once a consensus is reached.

In the meantime, individuals caught engaging in illicit money-changing will be banned from entering Macau. Authorities will also continue to conduct patrols and inspections to prevent the illegal activity, according to Secretary Wong.

Carolyn is our legislation expert, with a background in law she is able to cover the current state of gambling around the world