Casino patrons in Macau can feel a little safer. According to the city’s Judiciary Police (JP), only 706 suspected gaming-related crimes were recorded from January to May 2018, marking a decrease of 3.8% over the same period last year. The JP consider crimes to be “gaming-related” when they occur inside or near a casino.
Of the crimes, 144 were described as being suspected unlawful detention related to loan sharking. This was a decrease of 39.7% year-on-year and comes as the JP has stepped up its involvement to stop the activity. The increased presence, while reducing unlawful detention, hasn’t had the same impact on loan-sharking activity, though, with a total of 212 cases recorded during the period. This was an increase of 61 cases over the amount seen during the same period last year.
JP Director Sit Chong Meng said in a speech last Wednesday that crime in the city is “gradually decreasing.” He further stated that there have been less casino-related crimes detected while, at the same time, there has been an increase in the number of suspects that have been delivered for prosecution.
In June, 113 people were arrested in Macau on suspicion of being involved in illegal loan sharking. At the time, it was the largest bust of its kind since Macau was handed over to China by Portugal in 1999. On July 4, another 13 were arrested for the same crimes, and, in February, 28 individuals were arrested. In May, 280 individuals were questioned by the JP in only 13 days over possible connections to loan-sharking operations.
The JP has taken strides to combat criminal activity in the gambling mecca, including a greater presence, as well as working with casinos. It has started to create joint efforts with the casinos so that they can participate in stopping crime. During the first quarter of 2018, the police force conducted a total of 12 independent operations targeting casino-related crime.
In his speech, the police director pointed out that the cases of alleged gaming-related criminal activity had “not [negatively] impacted the overall public security” of the international gambling hub.