Published: January 28, 2022 09:54
Last updated on: January 28, 2022 at 11:06 am.
Crimes related to the gaming industry in Macau last year increased from the 2020 figures. However, upcoming changes to operators and aircraft may lead to a downturn later this year.
A report submitted by the Macau Judicial Police on Thursday indicates that Macau saw a 23.2% year-on-year increase in “gaming-related” crimes last year. This comes after the return of the city’s casinos that have been plagued by lockdowns and border closures throughout 2020.
In 2020, there were 1,114 crimes that fall into this category. Last year, the number rose to 1,372. As border and travel restrictions ease, more traffic has begun to flow into the city. 30% more, which helped fuel the increase in crime.
When analyzing the different types of activities that Macau authorities describe as gaming-related, it hasn’t been budged by loans. There were 72 cases in 2020, and 71 last year.
Unlawful arrests decreased to 27 from 32 between the two years. These arrests are often associated with sharks. Individuals who cannot repay their loans are taken “hostages” until they or their families can repay the debt.
As a result of this reduction, the Judicial Police confirmed that their efforts are paying off. There are fewer borrowings taking place due to the increased interest from the police. However, she added, “Illicit money exchange activities continue to negatively impact casinos and the security in their vicinity.”
Breaking the loan-sharing gang as 2021 comes to a close
Despite the increased police interest, loan sharing is still finding a way to infiltrate the consumer market in Macau. The judicial police arrested 50 people last December at the end of the year.
The arrests came as a result of a joint operation between local police and officials in mainland China. All 50 individuals were linked to the same gang that was providing illegal loans to VIP gamblers. The group has reportedly earned more than $538,860 through the loans, according to local public radio TDM.
Some of that money came from the exorbitant rates sharks charge for loans. Some were also surcharges that were incurred when loan recipients were unable to pay.
Those who failed to pay were kidnapped and threatened. According to a TDM report, “[The loan sharks] He videotapes the operation and sends videos to the victim’s family and friends to force them to pay the debts and force them to do so. They may even force victims to drink dirty water or act in a manner that incites them to panic and videotape to force debtors to pay off debts.”
VIP gamblers lose contact with Macau
In many cases, VIP gamblers used trash to facilitate their activity in Macau. In other cases, the sharks urged gambling lenders to feel like a VIP, as they made loans that individuals could not afford. The relationship between junk gambling and VIP gambling in Macau is now tenuous at best.
After the Suncity Group disaster, Macau drew a line in the sand with junk ships. Where there were 85 a year ago, there are now only 46 that have been approved for a license. The number has repeatedly decreased over the past eight years.
The Macau Game Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported this week that there are 29 scrap planes awaiting license renewal. The application process for all of them is still a work in progress, but there will likely only be a 50-50 chance of them being approved.
Wynn Macau, Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment have already ceased business with the Junks. The remaining three casino operators are still weighing their options. However, they are likely to follow suit.
With the massive decrease in the number of unwanted ships and the closing of the VIP game rooms, the lending sharks will have the opportunity to deceive the gamblers. This, of course, is China’s goal, and it seems to be working toward it.