Macau has seen a significant rise year-on-year in the first half in reported cases of crime relating to gaming, said Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak (pictured), speaking on Friday.
Mr Wong stated that in the six months to June 30, gaming-related criminal cases had jumped 34.5 percent year-on-year to 679 cases.
During the first half of this year, a total of 170 cases of unlawful detention were recorded, reflecting a 112.5 percent increase year-on-year. Such cases are typically associated in Macau with loan sharking connected to gambling.
The surge in illegal detentions also drove violent crimes up by 3 percent to 410, while usury cases (unlawful lending of money) increased by 39.1 percent year-on-year to 153.
Most cases of usury (92 percent) and unlawful detention (77 percent) happened inside casinos, the authorities said in the half-year report.
The official said cases of people being illegally held had risen noticeably in the second quarter.
“From March to June, the number of crimes of illegal confinement and loansharking increased and this deserves our attention,” Secretary Wong said in a speech at a press conference on Friday.
Mr Wong said he believed the increase in the number of reported cases has to do with “a better enforcement of the law”. The official added that “there is no indication” that the slowdown in the gaming industry is having any negative impact on Macau’s safety.
The first half of this year also witnessed a slight decrease in the number of overall crime cases, down by 0.9 percent year-on-year to 7,025.
The first six months saw a year-on-year fall in cases of illegal entry to Macau and cases of people overstaying their visas, reducing the crimes to 16,720 cases. However, cases of “decoying”, “assisting”, accommodating or employing illegal immigrants rose by 8.9 percent to 257 cases.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China