Macau Sees Decline in Crime as Visitation Numbers Fall

Macau’s sweeping changes across the gambling industry have presented challenges for concessionaires in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) but they have also helped clear much of the petty crime and criminal incidents that took place at gambling properties across the city. According to a new report by Macau’s security secretary Wong Sio Chak, this is one of the few positive developments resulting from the pandemic.

SAR Experiences Falling Crime as Casino Guests Absent

As such, the drop in crime has been attributed both to more enforcement action, admittedly to the decline of visitors to gambling properties throughout the first half of the year. The absence of junket operators which have been in steady decline since the arrest of Alvin Chau has also played a role.

According to Wong, there were 198 instances of gambling-related crime for the half year ended on June 30. This is a 45% decline from the numbers in 2021. Macau noted that the rebound in tourism in 2021 saw more gambling-related crimes as the influx of visitors was greater, but as 2022 numbers have been declining, there have been fewer such instances.  

Macau has mostly focused on clamping down on crime that involves illicit exchanges of money at casino cages. As a result, money laundering charges were also down during the first half year. Theft, usury, and kidnappings were also lower. Macau didn’t miss the opportunity to laud the efforts of law enforcement who have been working tirelessly to target criminal groups and nip crime in the bud, severely limiting the opportunities for crime to occur in the first place.

Wong acknowledged though that despite the fall in crime, Macau would only benefit to see its gambling industry return to pre-pandemic numbers, with police ever vigilant to stop bad actors from damaging the city’s reputation or endangering its guests. Footfall to casinos has fallen severely in 2022, with new restrictions and mostly shut borders to China stopping the influx of visitors.

No Crossing That Border Any Time Soon

China has been actively discouraging people from making the crossing with Macau to gamble there, arguing that citizens should not risk exposure to COVID-19. Macau has also been battling cases of the infection itself, severely limiting its operational ability over the past few months. Regardless, crime is in decline. Whether it stays that way only the future will tell.

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