|Casino-related crimes in Macau increased by 19.5% or 1,599 crimes. / Photo by: Yuri Shebalius via Shutterstock|
The world’s biggest gambling hub, Macau, has plenty of regulations to make sure that its gambling industry operates legally and efficiently. But while the industry is thriving, the casino-related crimes of Macau increased in 2019. This is according to data released by the Public Security Police Force of Macau, confirmed by Macau Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak.
Gaming-Related Crimes Continue to Surge
The total number of local crimes recorded in Macau remained “relatively stable” from January to September 2019 and increased only by 0.4% compared to the same period in 2018. However, casino-related crimes increased by 19.5% or 1,599 crimes, says Wong via online gambling and sports betting platform Calvin Ayre.
Scams also increased by two-thirds or 291 number of scams recorded. The Secretary for Security clarified that casino-related scams involve illegal money exchanges that were either paid by customers using a counterfeit currency or promises not delivered. Even casino operators have fallen victim to these crimes as scammers tried to use fake casino chips in their facility or have conspired with the table dealers to make sure that they receive higher winnings than what they owned.
Loan-Sharking Cases Also Increased
Cases of loan-sharking related to gaming also reached a 20.8% year-on-year rise, totaling 471 cases in 2019 alone. The Chinese special administrative region’s police also noted a more than 25.7% increase in illegal detentions caused by gaming-related activities. These illegal detentions reached 274 cases in the first nine months of 2019. Most of these detentions involve methods that allow gamblers to borrow money and then they will be held in hostage until they can make arrangements with their relatives to pay them the borrowed cash plus interest.
Robberies in Macau also increased to nearly 30% or 61 cases, with a majority of the thefts occur around and in hotels, Calvin Ayre added. Nevertheless, Wong reassured the residents in Macau that the majority of the casino-related crime victims were visitors to their region and not the locals.
Wong added that the Judiciary Police and the Public Security police in their region achieved 2,317 patrols at local casinos from January to September. This means they have doubled their efforts in patrolling casinos compared to the same period in 2018. Currently, Macau is planning to use its new video surveillance system called Sky Eye, wherein around 800 cameras will be installed in the region’s public places in the first quarter of 2020. Macau also hopes that by 2023, they will have already installed 2,600 monitoring cameras to see the goings and comings of visitors and residents of Macau.
|Robberies in Macau increased to nearly 30% or 61 cases, with a majority of the thefts occur around and in hotels. / Photo by: Christian Delbert via Shutterstock|
Data Protection in Casinos, “Dangerously Weak”
Wong also mentioned that the employee and client data protection in some local casinos is “dangerously weak.” This is why he advised the gaming operators to strengthen their measures to protect the personal data of their customers and to also better monitor their employees.
Publisher Macau Business has, for instance, reported on a case in July, wherein a casino treasury clerk extorted a gaming room meant for VIPs. The man involved reportedly took advantage of his position in the casino to obtain customers' data and extort nearly HK$6 million (US$766,702) from a casino player. The man also allegedly blackmailed the customer that he will disclose his data if he will not give the money. Police authorities indicated that the case reflects the weakness of the customer data protection system of some casinos.
Crime Rate by Country
There is no clear reason why crimes are committed by individuals, but some factors contribute to the increasing crime rate. According to demographic data platform World Population Review, high crime rates are usually seen in areas or countries where poverty is high and job availability is low. Tough sentences and strict police enforcement tend to lower crime rates as well. Countries with the highest crime rates, not just casino-related, include Venezuela (84.86% crime rate), Papua New Guinea (80.26%), South Africa (77.02%), Honduras (75.84%), Afghanistan (73.26%), Trinidad and Tobago (73.15%), Brazil (69.48%), El Salvador (68.63%), Namibia (68.14), and Syria (66.91%).
On the other hand, countries with some of the lowest crime rates include Qatar (12%), United Arab Emirates (12.52%), Japan (15.91%), Taiwan (16.22%), Hong Kong (18.1%), Georgia (20.18%), Armenia (20.78%), and Switzerland (21.18%).
Effect of Crime on Economic Growth
Author Dumitru Ojog from The Erasmus School of Economics previously shared that there are associates between crime, unemployment, and long-run economic growth. This is because the credibility of the government plays an important role in the openness of trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), which is one of the main sources of technology transfer between two nations and adds to economic growth. The author concluded that homicides have the biggest (negative) effect on economic growth, followed by domestic burglary, violent crime, and robbery.
Criminal activity, like those related to casinos in Macau, discourages foreign direct and domestic investments. Aside from keeping a close watch on Macau casinos or increasing the police patrols, it is a good idea that gambling operators themselves increase their security measures and evaluation procedures before hiring personnel.