Macau Cracking Down on Casino Crime

  • Casino crime has risen by 14% for the first quarter of 2019
  • Instances of loan sharking have increased by 37%
  • As a result, authorities are planning a crackdown on casino-related crime in the region
  • This comes in the midst of a potential rubella outbreak in the region
Crime scene
Macau authorities are cracking down on casino crime after a 14% increase in the first quarter.

Changing times in Macau

Macau is the world’s leading destination for gambling. The island is the only place in China where gambling is legal, so it attracts many visitors from mainland China and from other countries throughout Asia.

There have been recent concerns that the slowing down of the Chinese economy will lead to a significant drop in casino revenues. Now rising crime rates in casinos is also a problem.

There are ongoing efforts to try and clean the image of the island to continue to attract visitors, as well as attempting to make it a more family-friendly destination. Macau wants to diversify the emphasis on casinos and gambling in case this sector suffers a setback.

Casino crime figures rising

Casino crime figures are on the rise. Over the last year, instances of money laundering at casinos have decreased by 6%. However, loan sharks constitute another problem.

Overall, casino crime has risen by over 14% in this period. This has led to the local authorities adopting a much tougher stance.

The island’s crime figures show that there were 438 gambling-related crimes in the first quarter of the year. Illegal loans, in particular, increased by over 37% to 81 reported cases. This was after loan sharing activity rose by almost 26% in 2018 over 2017.

In one particularly gruesome case, a gambler recently lost his life after failing to repay a debt to a loan shark.  This was a high-profile murder and it does not reflect well on the destination.

Law enforcement authorities are now placing more of an emphasis on loan sharking. They are also trying to align the resources and information of the main inspection and investigation teams on the island by having them all working through a single operations center.

This center will be operating 24/7 and will be the base for the four inspection teams on Macau, as well as gambling criminal investigators. Further oversight will also likely be introduced to continue to help with this crackdown.

Authorities preparing for the worst

Macau has also been working on being well prepared for a potential attack. A simulated attack on the Venetian Casino resort was staged on March 22.

This drill was designed to spot any potential sticking points if a potential attack occurs. Hostages were taken, injuries were simulated, and there were bomb threats.

That was the second drill of its kind in Macau. The first was in January 2018, not long after major attacks involving casinos in both Manila and Las Vegas in 2017.

Other problems

There have been reports of a wide outbreak of rubella in Macau, but the authorities have been quick to clarify that this is under control and it is not actually an outbreak.

So far in 2019, almost 40 cases of rubella have been confirmed. Since the start of April, 24 casino workers have gotten rubella.

While the Macau Health Bureau does not want to use a strong word like “outbreak,” it does appear to be an issue. Generally, Macau has a high rate of vaccination for rubella, which is why there has not been a large epidemic. A lot of people planning to go to Macau will make sure that they are up to date on their vaccinations.