Macau’s Judiciary Police say they have worked with the respective security teams of several casinos on Macau pensinsula and the Cotai district to check for illicit currency exchange activities in or around the premises. The latest enforcement action was on Friday (March 3) and Saturday (March 4), with 84 individuals quizzed.
The inspection covered gaming floors, shopping zones, and hotel-related areas at Galaxy Macau and the Venetian Macao on Cotai, as well as equivalent areas of MGM Macau and StarWorld Hotel on the city’s peninsula, the police said in a social media update.
Of the 84 people spoken to by the Judiciary Police, only 20 – most of them residents of mainland China – were thought to have been engaged in illicit currency exchange activities. The police said the 20 appeared not to have any record previously of criminality.
Bets at Macau casinos are mainly denominated in Hong Kong dollars, but many of the venues’ customers are from mainland China, which imposes controls on the amount of China’s currency, the yuan, that can be brought across the border, per trip.
The illicit money changers have historically touted not only a better exchange rate than the official one, but also offered to process unauthorised cross-border transactions, according to previous statements by the Macau authorities.
The Judiciary Police had said in January they were looking to collaborate with local casino security and surveillance departments for a “targeted” approach to combat illicit money exchange, a recurrent problem inside or around the city’s gaming venues.
The local security authorities had, since pre-Covid 19 times, identified illicit currency exchange activities as one of the gaming-related crimes that warranted close inspection. Such activities were, in some cases, associated with scams or violent crime.
In 2022 the Macau police identified just over 3,500 individuals suspected of illicit money exchange activities; most of them from the Chinese mainland, said Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, in a Friday briefing on annual crime statistics. The official added that local police expected an uptick in such illicit activity ths year, after the easing of most Covid-19 related travel restrictions since the beginning of January.
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