Three special squads of police working inside Macau casinos intercepted 59 cases of loan sharking on actual gaming floors during 2019. So said Sit Chong Meng, director of the city’s Judiciary Police, speaking during a Thursday media briefing.
Mr Sit said his force considered the squads had in likelihood been effective in “deterring” even more loan sharking from occurring in casinos, and also off-site unlawful detention of debtors by criminals.
Nonetheless, during the first nine months of 2019, Macau’s two police forces – the other being the Public Security Police – recorded an aggregate of 1,599 gaming-related crimes, said Wong Sio Chak, the city’s Secretary for Security, in commentary in late November. In the first nine months of 2019 there were 471 cases across the city of alleged gaming-related loan-sharking – also known as usury. That was a 20.8 percent increase year-on-year.
On Thursday the Judiciary Police boss didn’t mention gaming crime figures for calendar-year 2019. That information is due to come from Secretary Wong later. But Mr Sit did suggest in his Thursday commentary that intercepting usury within casinos probably prevented such instances developing into something worse: unlawful detention of debtors by such sharks in the event the victims could not pay back the cash advanced.
In the January to September period Macau’s police forces had recorded an aggregate of 274 cases of alleged unlawful detention relating to usury, representing a 25.7 percent year-on-year increase, Secretary Wong had noted in his November commentary.
On Thursday Mr Sit noted there had been an increase in Macau of “robberies” and “scams” he said were linked to individuals involved in “illicit money exchange”. The local police forces have on a number of occasions emphasised their enforcement effort against illicit money exchange activities taking place either in local casinos or their surroundings.
Mr Sit said his department would step up its particular effort in that regard during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday period. Such annual festivities are usually a peak time for the city’s gaming and tourism traffic.
China’s State Council has declared Friday, January 24, to Thursday, January 30, inclusive, as a public holiday period in mainland China for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
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”The upswing in visitation and gaming revenue is likely to aid Fitch-rated casino operators with a presence in Macau in reducing their debt levels”