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Macau Takes Aim at Illicit Money Exchange in Casinos: Over 11,000 Individuals Identified and 2,048 Banned

Last year, Macau's police force unveiled a significant crackdown on illicit money exchange activities within the city's bustling casinos, revealing that more than 11,000 individuals were identified and 2,048 were subsequently barred from entering gaming establishments. The revelations came during a media briefing on crime data for 2023, where Sit Chong Meng, director of the Judiciary Police, highlighted the ongoing challenges posed by gambling-related illegal exchange businesses, which continue to thrive and pose security risks around Macau's renowned casinos.

Macau Takes Aim at Illicit Money Exchange in Casinos: Over 11,000 Individuals Identified and 2,048 Banned

The illicit money exchange activities were exposed through daily inspections and special operations conducted by Macau's police force within the city's casinos. After establishing a collaborative mechanism with the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, the regulatory body overseeing casinos in Macau, identified individuals involved in such activities are promptly banned from entering the city's gaming establishments. Macau authorities are now contemplating the criminalization of unauthorized money-exchange activities specifically occurring in or around the city's casinos.


In Macau, where gambling predominantly requires Hong Kong dollars, a significant portion of the clientele originates from mainland China. Due to restrictions on the amount of the Chinese yuan that can be carried across the border per trip, unauthorized money exchange activities have become prevalent, prompting authorities to take stringent measures to curb such practices.

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Despite the challenges posed by illicit money exchange, the Judiciary Police reported a considerable decline in serious gambling-related crimes in 2023 compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Sit Chong Meng emphasized that the total number of gaming-related crime investigations initiated throughout the year amounted to 2,717, reflecting a 50 percent reduction from 2019. Despite a 181 percent yearly increase, the figure indicated a significant improvement in the overall security landscape within Macau's gaming industry.


Sit Chong Meng further underscored the noteworthy decrease in serious gambling crimes, specifically highlighting an 80.2 percent drop in loansharking cases and a substantial 90.4 percent decrease in related detention cases compared to the figures recorded in 2019. The director of the Judiciary Police expressed satisfaction that the use of gambling for illegal activities, including money laundering and other serious crimes, had essentially disappeared. In this context, he conveyed optimism that Macau's gaming industry is heading in the right direction for healthy development.


Despite the overall positive trend, the Judiciary Police addressed a surge in specific gambling-related crimes. The reported 119 cases of usury, or loan sharking, marked a significant 261 percent increase from the previous year. Similarly, the number of cases related to unlawful detention witnessed a notable rise, with 33 cases documented in 2023 compared to a solitary case in 2022. The data also indicated a total of 257 fraud cases linked to gaming, representing a substantial year-on-year escalation of 199 percent.


As Macau continues to grapple with challenges posed by illicit activities within its vibrant gaming industry, authorities are determined to strike a balance between fostering healthy development and ensuring robust security measures to safeguard the integrity of the world-renowned casino hub. The ongoing efforts to crack down on illicit money exchange activities underscore Macau's commitment to maintaining a secure and regulated gambling environment.

By fLEXI tEAM


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