A total of 97 websites allegedly related either to illicit gambling or fraud – some of them aimed at visitors to the Macau tourism market – was taken down in the first eight months of this year, thanks to efforts at home or further afield, coordinated by the Macau police forces.
Macau’s police had identified 125 such websites in total – all with servers hosted overseas – but had not been able to obtain action against all of them.
That is according to the full text of the Macau government’s Policy Address 2021, released to the public on Monday.
On Monday the city’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, had told a plenary meeting of the Legislative Assembly on the outline of the new policy address, that his administration would continue to “foster responsible gambling”, and to “combat illegal gambling” activities. The latter term is commonly used in China in relation to online gambling.
The 2021 policy document mentioned that in general terms, the city’s police had handled 256 “gaming-related” crime cases in the first eight months of 2020, a tally that represented a year-on-year decline of 81.8 percent.
In the same period, gross gaming revenue in Macau’s licensed casinos dipped 81.6 percent year-on-year, coinciding with travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the calendar year to August 31, visitor arrivals to Macau declined 87.0 percent year-on-year.
In April, Wong Sio Chak, the city’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, told the Legislative Assembly that Macau’s Judiciary Police had during 2019 identified 254 “illicit gambling websites” and arranged for 177 of them to be blocked.
That was a result of direct communication with the overseas hosting organisations for the respective websites, rather than via formal judicial cross-border cooperation, Mr Wong had said. He added he hoped in future that the International Criminal Police Organization – a body also known as Interpol – could assist Macau in taking down illicit gambling websites.
The Policy Address 2021 said the city’s security bodies would continue to fight – via spot checks in casinos – loan-sharking crimes and the related forced detainment of gamblers; and crack down against illicit money exchange activities, “tip hustling” and prostitution at venues thought to have “a higher occurrence of gaming-related crimes”.
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