Macau terror threat remains low but can’t be ruled out

TAGs: Macau, steve vickers and associates

macau-casino-terror-threatA top security consultant is repeating warnings that Macau casinos could face a terrorist attack, despite being criticized for issuing similar warnings in the past.

This week saw the release of Steve Vickers & Associates’ annual Asia Risk Assessment report, which offers insights into the major challenges facing Asian countries and the likely outcomes. Vickers is the former head of the Hong Kong police criminal intelligence bureau and thus no stranger to Macau’s casino market.

The 2018 report repeats Vickers’ view that Macau’s casinos “remain vulnerable to terrorist attack despite recent efforts to improve readiness.” In 2016, Vickers ruffled feathers when he cited Macau’s massive integrated resorts as prime locations for a “spectacular attack on a soft target.”

Vickers justified this claim due to the “nexus of Chinese, American and Jewish interests” in Macau’s gaming industry, embodied by Jewish-American casino magnates Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands) and Steve Wynn (Wynn Resorts).

Vickers told GGRAsia that his group had been “well and truly pilloried for raising the terror issue,” but he maintains that “external threats are always possible.” In 2016, Indonesian authorities reportedly disrupted a plot by an ISIS-linked group to fire rockets across the Strait of Singapore at Adelson’s Marina Bay Sands resort.

In the wake of last year’s casino-related mass casualty events in both Manila and Las Vegas, Macau authorities announced last October that the special administrative region would conduct terror attack drills this year in order to gauge the response of its emergency services.

Vickers told the Macau Daily Times that he was “happy to see Macau authorities taking this threat more seriously.” Such exercises won’t necessarily reduce the risk of an attack, but the lessons learned will undoubtedly make for a better response should their worst fears be realized.

As for more immediate threats, Vickers warned that “the involvement of Triad Societies and organized crime in the gaming sector shows no sign of diminishing – rather, it is institutionalized.” Previous studies have claimed that Macau casinos often consider triad links to be a motivating factor in deciding whether to work with a junket operator, in that gamblers will understand that their casino debts must be honored.


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