Macau’s casino decline has been accompanied by a corresponding rise in the number of illegal detention cases as gamblers find themselves unable to pay their debts.
On Wednesday, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak announced that the number of recorded crimes in Macau fell 2.2% to 10,347 in the first three quarters of 2015. While overall crime fell, the number of casino-related crimes rose by one-third to 1,118, roughly 11% of the total.
The number of false imprisonment cases spiked 135% to 308, and over 70% of these cases took place within casino property. Loan-sharking cases were up 35.6% to 240 while illegal gambling crimes more than doubled to 44.
In the illegal detention cases, both perpetrators and victims tended to be non-Macau residents, suggesting the perps were determined to get someone to pay the debt before the borrower returned to the mainland, where gambling debts are illegal and thus unenforceable through normal methods.
The head of Macau’s junket operator lobby group recently claimed that collecting debts from VIP gamblers had become increasingly difficult. Kwok Chi Chung claimed that junkets were collecting as little as one-fifth of debts within the normal expected time period, down from a 70% average before Macau began its 18-months-and-counting revenue decline.
Junkets are also facing a liquidity crunch due to investors getting skittish after Dore Entertainment Co Ltd fell victim to an internal theft of the junket’s operating capital. On Wednesday, Wong addressed the scandal, saying it was the result of “loopholes” in Dore’s accounting and business practices and thus Wong saw no “causal” or “direct” link with Macau’s overall casino market decline.
Despite the rise in gaming-related crime, Wong claimed the “adjustment of the gaming industry” hadn’t negatively impacted Macau’s public security situation, In fact, Wong said the number of suspects sent to the Public Prosecutions Office had risen 52% year-on-year, reflecting “a better enforcement of the law” by the local gendarmes.