Macau’s Low Visitor Numbers Factor in Decline Of Gaming-Related Crime
- Gaming-linked crime dropped to 198 in 1H of 2022, down from 361 in 2021
- The Macau government attributes the decline to fewer tourist numbers due to COVID-19
- Most forms of gaming-related crime dropped, including scams and illegal money exchange activities
Macau has recorded a decline in gaming-related crime during the first half of the year. There were just 198 gaming-linked crime incidents reported in the six months to June 30, according to the latest figures from the Office of the Secretary for Security.
During the same period in 2021, the region recorded 361 instances. The significant drop in crime numbers came as a result of fewer tourists visiting the region due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The city recorded 213 incidents during the first half of 2020 when worldwide lockdowns were implemented. The following year, when the COVID-19 situation stabilized and travel restrictions were eased in Macau, the number of visitors increased which correspondingly led to a rise in gaming-linked crime.
However, a resurgence of COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant in the first half of 2022 meant Macau had to re-impose strict travel measures which resulted in a decline in tourist numbers, and this was the main reason why gaming-related crime cases were also down during the same period, the Office of the Secretary for Security stated.
In June in particular, Macau was forced to close its borders to combat a new wave of COVID-19 infections. Non-essential businesses, including casinos, were also ordered to close for nearly two weeks. As a result, the city experienced a massive drop in visitor numbers which led to fewer gaming-linked crime incidents, though casino revenues were also heavily impacted.
Macau police also intensified their operations against criminal groups which also helped bring down the numbers, the Office added.
Scams Down By 56 Percent
Casino scams accounted for 54 of the 198 cases recorded in the first half of the year, with 23 involving currency exchange. That represents a drop of 56.5 percent from 2021’s figures.
Illegal money exchange activities, which were rampant last year, also went down by 39.1 percent. Most of the 2,725 individuals investigated came from mainland China and some of them were part of organized groups. The report noted that criminals had become more sophisticated in carrying out their illicit activities and Macau police are continuing to crack down on them by conducting operations regularly.
Other forms of gaming-linked crime also decreased during 1H of 2022, including theft, usury, and forced detention of individuals.