Macau authorities are asking international telecom operators to help crack down on online gambling sites using Macau casino operators’ brands.
On Tuesday, Wong Sio Chak, Macau’s Secretary for Security, held a press conference during which he claimed that gambling websites improperly piggybacking on Macau casino trademarks had “seriously damaged” the special administrative region’s image as an international tourism destination.
Wong claimed that Macau’s Judiciary Police (PJ) had requested that international web hosting services block or remove 237 gambling websites that claimed affiliation with either a Macau casino operator or local gaming regulators, and that the web hosting companies had removed over 130 of these sites.
Wong didn’t specify whether or not the figures he cited referred to actions performed in 2018 or all time. In August, Wong claimed the number of blocked or removed gambling sites was around 90.
In August, Chinese authorities reported busting a gang that operated five illegal gambling sites that used trademarks associated with Macau casino operators SJM Holdings and Sands China. In September, Wynn Macau warned of “fraudulent online gambling and investment websites” illegally using Wynn trademarks.
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has been issuing public warnings regarding similarly bogus websites since 2015, noting that it has never authorized any online gambling activity. Macau operators, including Sands, have successfully sued the brand poachers but collecting on the financial judgments has proven a more challenging task.
LOAN-SHARKS ON THE RISE
The illegal website discussion came as the PJ unveiled its Q3 crime statistics, which showed 1,338 suspected gaming-related criminal cases in the nine months ending September 30, a modest 1.1% rise over the same period last year. The overall number of criminal cases was down 1.8% to 10,559.
Gaming related loan-sharking cases shot up nearly one-quarter to 390 in the January-September period, although forcible detentions of gamblers who couldn’t immediately repay their loans fell more than one-third to 218. As with the PJ’s H2 report, Wong claimed the rising number of loan-sharking crimes was due to a greater police focus on illegal lenders.