Macau’s unemployment rate, and the resulting social pressure, could potentially result in “instability” regarding the city’s security, said the Office of the Secretary for Security in its first-quarter crime report.
The report, published on Tuesday, included an assessment on the link between the current situation of Macau’s gaming industry and the city’s overall security condition. In the assessment, the office said the number of gaming-related crimes declined to 52 cases in the first quarter this year, from 63 incidents in the last quarter of 2021.
Such sequential decline could be attributed to a number of reasons, including Covid-19 related travel restrictions, the fewer number of visitors to Macau, and an increase in enforcement actions, said the office. But it highlighted concerns regarding Macau’s rising unemployment rate, and the potential implication to the city’s security.
“To date, the continuous rise in the unemployment rate [of Macau] has yet to impose any impact on our…security. However, if the unemployment rate continues to rise, all sorts of social conflicts will definitely intensify and that could bring more instability to our security,” the office remarked.
Macau’s unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter, to 3.5 percent in the three months to March 31. It represented about 13,300 people, compared to 11,900 in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The office also commented on latest revisions proposed by the government to the gaming law amendment bill, which dropped the condition that the gaming areas of so-called satellite casino in the city must in future be owned by any one of the casino concessionaires.
This revision, it added, has alleviated, “to the largest extent”, the unemployment pressure that gaming industry staff potentially faced from Macau’s gaming regulatory policy changes, the office claimed.
It added: “The continuous spread of Covid-19 around the world (including neighbouring countries and regions) will continue to bring on a negative impact on all industries in Macau, including the gaming industry, so the pressure of unemployment still exists and therefore, the instability factor for Macau’s security will persist.”
Macau’s gaming-related crimes mainly involve loansharking activities, illegal detention of individuals, scams and robberies, the office noted in its latest crime report.
The office also cited concerns on illicit money exchange activities – mostly engaged by mainland Chinese “groups” – that are associated with the gaming sector. The office added that these activities were, in some instances, connected with scams and violent crimes.
A total of 33 fraud cases associated with illicit money exchange activities were recorded in the first three months of 2022, “which reflects a growing trend in this type of crimes,” added the report.
According to the statistics, the tally of all suspected crime cases reported in Macau in the first quarter of 2022 saw a 12-percent decrease year-on-year, to 2,565 instances.
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"Genting was always facing an uphill battle to displace an existing concessionaire"
Founder of consultancy Newpage Consulting