The head of Macau’s gaming regulator believes that the theft of casino chips with a face value of nearly HKD47.9 million (US$6.1 million) from a property operated by a Macau casino concessionaire was an “isolated incident”.
“I believe that the crime is only an isolated incident. The police authorities were able to crack the case quickly,” said on Friday Paulo Martins Chan (pictured in a file photo), director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ. He didn’t name the casino involved, but Wynn Macau Ltd has already confirmed that one of its two Macau properties was involved. Separately, the Judiciary Police confirmed the property concerned was in the NAPE district of the city, narrowing it down to Wynn Macau on the city’s peninsula.
“We think that this is not going to have a significant impact on the image of Macau,” Mr Chan additionally told media representatives on the sidelines of an event.
Mr Chan also stated the six local gaming operators had immediately adopted new security measures following the crime.
“I, for sure, cannot reveal the details of the measures adopted. But these measures were implemented straightaway. I believe they are effective measures because [the casino operators] already knew where the crux of the problem lies,” said the gaming regulator head, without clarifying that point.
Two local residents were arrested by Macau’s Judiciary Police on Thursday in connection with the heist. Some cash and cash chips were allegedly found respectively on the two suspects, but it did not correspond to the same amount as reported stolen.
One of them, described by the Judiciary Police as a casino dealer, admitted having committed the crime, said the force. He also claimed to have started gambling since his teenage years, and was heavily in debt, asserted the police.
One suspect – described as a relative of the dealer – denied any involvement. The detained dealer allegedly refused to comment when questioned on the whereabouts of the balance of the missing chips.
The DICJ director mentioned in his Friday remarks that casino workers were “a group that poses a higher risk” of problem gambling than others in the community. He indicated that his department would soon submit to the Executive Council – an advisory body to the Chief Executive of Macau – a previously-flagged proposal to ban Macau-based gaming workers from entering any casino floor outside work hours.
The initiative, which involves amending the current legal regime for entry to casinos, was a subject to a one-month public consultation period last year.
Meanwhile, the acting director of the Judiciary Police, Sit Chong Meng, told media on Saturday that the gaming operator involved in the heist had implemented measures to prevent the stolen chips to be cashed.
“The stolen chips were registered and uniquely coded, and currently cannot be cashed,” he said.
In other developments relating to local casino security, a simulation exercise – involving a scenario with multiple armed suspects attacking Galaxy Macau casino resort and taking hostages – was due to take place overnight on Monday into the early hours of Tuesday.
Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, noted to local media in November that the government planned in the first half of 2018 to launch a “large-scale, joint contingency drill” involving local casinos and their surroundings.
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”Given that the blanket casino closure [in Macau due to Typhoon Mangkhut] happened on an all-important weekend day… we expect that somewhere between MOP1.1 billion [US$136.2 million] and MOP1.5 billion in GGR will be lost”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia