In Macau, suspected gambling-related crime has reportedly climbed by some 16% year-on-year during the first nine months of 2016 to 1,298 individual instances led by a 45% swell in alleged cases of loan-sharking.

According to a report from GGRAsia, authorities in the former Portuguese enclave label cases as being related to gaming if they take place inside a casino or its immediate surroundings with police reporting 348 suspected cases of usury from January to the end of September while the third-quarter figure rose by 32.2% year-on-year to hit 115 instances.

The initial nine months of 2016 moreover saw suspected cases of unlawful detention, which GGRAsia reported was a practice typically associated with loan-sharking, grow by 13.3% year-on-year to 349 while the third-quarter figure increased by 3.6% to 113 instances.

Authorities reportedly explained that the majority of victims in loan-sharking and unlawful detention cases over the nine-month period had been “non-Macau residents” with most instances happening inside casinos, which meant that these had “not [negatively] impacted the overall public security in Macau”.

From January to the end of September, official figures reportedly showed that a total of 1,443 suspects had been presented to the Public Prosecutions Office for further processing on suspicion of gaming-related crimes, which represented a rise of 12.5% year-on-year.

Wong Sio Chak, Security Secretary for Macau, reportedly explained that the year-on-year swell in cases of gambling-related crime had slowed over the third quarter although last month saw the city’s most senior judge warn that the image of the Macau could be negatively affected if such instances were allowed to increase or spread away from casinos.

Despite the rise in gambling-related crime, October saw casinos in Macau record an 8.8% year-on-year boost in aggregated gross gaming revenues to $2.73 billion, which represented the third consecutive monthly increase.