Macau recorded a total of 1,298 cases of suspected gaming-related crime in the first nine months of 2016, according to police data disclosed on Thursday. The figure represented a jump of 16.0 percent in year-on-year terms.
The Macau authorities label cases as gaming-related when they take place inside a casino or in its surroundings.
Gaming-related cases of suspected usury – unlawful lending of money, more commonly known as loan-sharking – increased by 45.0 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2016 to 348, the police data showed. In the third quarter, the figure went up by 32.2 percent year-on-year to 115 cases.
Between January and September, a total of 349 cases of gaming-related suspected unlawful detention were recorded, a jump of 13.3 percent compared with the prior-year period. In the third quarter, the figure stood at 133 cases, down by 3.6 percent. Such cases are typically associated in Macau with loan sharking connected to gambling.
In the first nine months of 2016, a total of 1,443 suspects were presented to the Public Prosecutions Office for further processing on suspicion of gaming-related crimes. That represented a year-on-year increase of 12.5 percent.
Commenting on the statistics regarding cases of suspected gaming-related crime, Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, said the year-on-year growth rate of cases involving some types of gaming-related crime had slowed down in the third quarter of 2016.
The Macau government stated in a Thursday release that the majority of the victims and of the perpetrators in the cases of usury and/or unlawful detention recorded in the city between January and September were “non-Macau residents”. The release added that most cases had taken place inside casinos or in their surroundings, meaning that the rise in cases of suspected gaming-related crime had “not [negatively] impacted the overall public security in Macau.”
The government also commented on three suspected cases of unlawful detention relating to gaming activities – that were said to have taken place on various dates in July and August and ended in each instance in those allegedly illegally detained being found dead. The government’s local crime statistics update said the cases had “been solved”. According to the release, the deaths were connected either with suicide, or a fall from a high-rise building when the allegedly detained person was attempting escape.
In October, Macau’s most senior judge warned that the image of the city’s gaming industry could be negatively affected if disputes or crimes linked to gambling debts continued to increase and to spread outside the city’s casino properties.
The Macau government’s latest crime update noted, referring to the cooling of the local casino gambling market in casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) terms: “The ongoing adjustment period in the gaming sector has yet to bring [negative] consequences to Macau’s overall security situation.”
Macau’s casino GGR rose 8.8 percent year-on-year in October, to MOP21.82 billion (US$2.73 billion), said earlier this month the local regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. The result marked only the third time in 29 months that monthly revenue had not contracted, judged year-on-year. The improvement began in August, when monthly casino GGR expanded by 1.1 percent after 26 straight months of decline.
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