Macau’s Security Service has released statistics showing that the popular gaming destination recorded 158 crimes related to gaming operations in the first quarter of 2023. As GGRAsia reports, the gaming-related crime rate in the region is about 24 percent higher than the same period last year, when 127 cases were related to the gaming sector.

However, crime records in the city have reportedly declined since the pre-pandemic period. Indeed, the statistics presented show that the number of gaming-related crimes is now down about 64% over the past four years compared to 2019.

Increasing crime related to gaming:

However, figures have increased over the past year. Authorities are reportedly considering the reopening of gambling facilities after COVID-19 as a major contributor to the rise in the number of crimes linked to gaming activities. According to a report by GGRAsia, authorities “have seen a rapid increase in Macau visitor numbers and a gradual recovery in the [urban] gaming industry” as cross-border policy eased as of Jan. 8, 2023

This increase in visitor numbers has also increased the probability of criminal behaviour. There were a total of 40 gaming-related fraud cases in the first quarter of 2023, which is 17.6% higher compared to the first quarter of 2022, according to the sources. There were also five gambling-related loan fraud cases, which were 50% lower year-over-year.

Crimes involving gaming facilities or other gambling operations during the observed period also included 28 off limits to the resort, 28 game-related thefts and 19 “misappropriation” cases, the sources said. The number of these cases reportedly ranged from 25% to 210% during the first quarter of 2022, respectively, compared to the previous year’s quarter.

Currency exchange fraud:

Authorities are said to have worked with six concessioners to “strengthen the number of police inspections” at gambling facilities and surroundings. The Agency for National Security also reported that authorities have specifically monitored the occurrence of illegal currency exchange activities involving some mainland Chinese groups “operating” in the gaming sector.

The agency reported detecting 3,655 people involved in these activities in the first three months of 2023. That number was 79% higher year-on-year, but the agency said “there was no significant increase in related crimes.”

Crime rates as the market grows:

The office reportedly said: “Most people were from mainland China, which reflects more professional trends and group activities. The [case numbers] increase is thought to be strictly related to the easing of the epidemic situation, the promotion of cross-border policies and the recovery of the gaming sector.”

Macau recorded a total of 3,006 criminal cases in the first quarter of 2023, a 17% increase from the previous year’s quarter, according to the sources. There were several benefits as the city opened up after the pandemic, but the number of illegal criminals trying to capitalize on the growing industry rose in each of the first three months of 2023. Authorities say gaming-related fraud may have been expected as Macau continued to grow, and they worked with operators to prevent or sanction it.


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