The numbers are in, and crime has not gone down in Macau over the last 12 months. These are the conclusions published by Macau’s Judicial Police last Thursday. The wave of criminality in the special administrative region has increased by 23.2% year-over-year, citing gaming-related crimes.
Despite the pandemic, criminals have been busier in 2021 than in 2020, even though casinos were put on life support. The police reported 1,372 crimes that were flagged as related to various aspects of gambling. Part of this increase is chalked up to Macau’s higher number of visitors.
Loan sharks remained at fairly the same levels, with the police reporting 72 cases in 2020 and 71 cases in 2020. The police were also able to reduce the number of unlawful detentions whereby loan sharks kidnap people and hold them in exchange for ransom from their families.
Problem gambling has long put a strain on family relationships in Macau, as most people have a dated understanding that they should cover their loved ones’ gambling debts. The matter has been compounded by how loan sharks have exploited this popular sentiment and guilted people into paying gambling debt through extortionist and illegal practices.
Loan Sharks Must Go as Police Intensifies Crackdown
The police confirmed that most of its efforts had been paying off. However, the presence of criminal organizations in the city continued to undermine the recovery of local operators. Meanwhile, authorities have been cracking down on junket operators, conducting a number of prominent arrests.
The debacle of junket operators, though, has given reasons to believe that crime waves will begin subsiding. For one, fewer people are apprehended by such illegal organizations and forced into labor or debt repayment. Most of that debt exists because the loan sharks would take advantage of vulnerable people, offering them money to gamble.
The Judiciary Police was able to arrest 50 people related to such operations last December. The organization targeted was focusing on VIP gamblers and had been able to earn $538,860 by the time the police had busted it.
Authorities still have a lot to do as loan sharking pervades Macau society and threatens at-risk consumers. Tips by consumers have also been helpful, the Judiciary Police confirmed, although many are afraid to step forward for risk to be associated with illegal gambling in the first place.
Marriage of VIP Gamblers and Junkets Ends up in Divorce
Following last year’s crackdown, Macau has lost the bulk of its junket operators. Those operations have been deemed illegal by authorities in Beijing, citing threats to citizens and visitors. Previously, there were 85 junkets in Macau, but the bulk of them has been culled through the regulatory process. Today, there are only 46 that have been able to renew their license. Their numbers are likely to thin as well. Meanwhile, companies that are hoping to renew their Macau licenses have already stopped working with junkets. Some of the companies include Wynn Macau, Melco Resorts, and Galaxy Entertainment.