Gaming-related crime in Macau continues its torrid pace, with the number of cases showing double-digit growth in the first five months of 2016.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the 56th anniversary of the Macau Judiciary Police (PJ), director Chao Wai Kuong said there’d been 660 gaming-related criminal cases through the end of May, up 15.6% from the same period one year ago. The pace of growth is accelerating, as Q1’s year-on-year increase was only 11.2%.
In keeping with recent patterns, gaming-related crimes largely fall into one of two categories: loan-sharking and illegal detention of gamblers who can’t pay their debts. Gaming-related loan-sharking cases were up 65.7% to 179 while illegal detention cases were up 70% to 169.
Comparing the 12 months between June 2014 – May 2015 and June 2015 – May 2016, gaming-related crime is up by one-third. Loan sharking cases were up 60% to 389 while illegal detention cases were up 200% to 435.
As is now standard, Chao insisted that Macau residents had little to fear from this crime wave, as most of the incidents were confined to casino property and most victims were non-residents.
Further evidence of this type of criminal activity was on full display last week when the PJ announced the arrest of eight mainland Chinese men accused of belonging to a long-sharking gang. The PJ believe the men are part of a 60-strong gang that rotates ‘staff’ in and out of Macau in groups of up to 10 men. The suspected ringleader remains at large.
The PJ received a tipoff about the gang’s operation back in April. The men were arrested at a high-rise apartment block, where police discovered I.O.U. slips and weapons such as knuckle-dusters. The gang reportedly scouted for clients by hanging out in smaller casinos in Macau’s Zape district.
The arrest marks the second loan-sharking scalp for the PJ in as many weeks. The ring broken up earlier this month targeted casino staff, particularly croupiers.