Despite attempts at preventing them, illicit money exchanges are still a part of the gambling landscape in Macau. Now the gaming industry has agreed to step in and try to burst the bubble, agreeing to take a more active role in trying to prevent the activity.
During a meeting with government officials, including the local gaming regulator and high-ranking police officials, last Friday, representatives from Macau’s casino industry pledged to cooperate with ongoing enforcement activities and to improve the checks conducted at their own facilities in order to curb illicit money exchanges.
The representatives pointed out that the activity has decreased, thanks to the efforts of the police force, but that the casinos are ready to help tackle the issue more proactively.
Over the past two months, according to government sources, there have been around 1,000 arrests of individuals suspected of participating in illicit money exchanges. Over the course of 2018, a total of 3,050 from outside of Macau were their alleged involvement in the activity. All of those were escorted out of the city, but no information has been offered regarding to where they were sent.
In a press release late last year, Macau’s government stated, “Some of this alleged illicit activity had also been linked to other forms of crime such as scamming and robbery, posing a serious threat to community security and the operations of Macau’s casinos.”
During the meeting last Friday, police officials acknowledged that the force would increase its enforcement efforts against illicit exchanges and would also act closely with law enforcement departments on mainland China to curb the activity. Additionally, they are going to work more closely with the local gaming industry to share information and get the casinos more involved.
Since just over a year ago, Chinese mainlanders have had to limit their cash withdrawals to CNY100,000 (about $14,949) when using ATMs in overseas locations. This includes ATMs in Macau, according to Chinese financial regulators. However, this is more than what is allowed by the Monetary Authority of Macao, which set a limit in 2016 of MOP5,000 (about $618) per transaction.
There has been concern that unauthorized money exchanges are being used in an attempt to receive more favorable exchange rates or to circumvent the financial controls. Either way, it leads to lowered consumer protection and the possibility of theft of funds, as the illicit money exchanges do not offer any security.