The Office of the Secretary for Security of Macau presented the statistics indicating that the popular gaming destination recorded 158 cases of crime related to gaming operations in the first quarter of 2023. The gaming-related crime rate of the region represents around 24 percent higher figure than the same period last year that saw 127 cases connected to the gaming field, as GGRAsia reports.

However, the criminal record of the city has reportedly decreased since the pre-pandemic period. Indeed, in comparison to the year 2019, the present gaming-related crime count testifies about a 64 percent reduction over the last four years, according to the presented statistics.

Gaming-Related Crime Increase:

But the figures increased over the last year. The authorities reportedly consider the post-Covid re-opening of the gambling facilities the main reason for the increased number of criminal cases linked to gaming activities. As GGRAsia reports, the authorities believe that the ease of the cross-border policies as of January 8, 2023 led to “a rapid rise in the number of visitors to Macau and the gradual recovery of the [city’s] gaming industry.”

Such a rise in the number of visitors has also increased the probability of criminal behavior. According to the source, the first quarter of 2023 recorded a total of 40 fraud cases related to gaming, which stands for a 17.6 percent higher level when compared to Q1 2022. Also, five gambling-related loan sharking cases were recorded representing a 50% lower level than the same period last year.

In the observed period, the criminal offenses committed in the gaming facilities or otherwise related to gambling operations also included 28 people banned from entering the resorts, 28 cases of gaming-linked thefts, and 19 cases of  “illegitimate appropriation,” according to the source. The number of these cases was reportedly higher than in the prior year’s quarter and respectively ranged from 25% to 210% over the first quarter of 2022.

Money Exchange Fraud :

The authorities reportedly worked together with the six concessionaires to “reinforce the number of inspections carried out by the police” in and around the gambling facilities. The Office of the Secretary for Security also reported that the authorities particularly monitored the occurrence of illegal money exchange activities associated with some mainland Chinese groups ”operating” in the gaming sector.

The Office reportedly detected 3,655 people involved in these activities over the first three months of 2023. Although this number was 79 percent higher on the year-on-year basis, the authority reportedly said that “there was no considerable rise in associated crimes.”

Crime Rate Follows Market Growth:

The Office reportedly added: “Most of the people were from mainland China, a fact that reflects a more professional trend and group activity. It is believed that the increase [in the number of cases] is strictly related to the easing of the epidemic situation, the facilitation of cross-border policies and the recovery of the gaming sector.”

As the source reports, Macau recorded a total of 3,006 criminal cases in the first quarter of 2023, which is 17 percent more than the prior year’s quarter. The opening of the city after the pandemic has brought multiple benefits, but the number of those illegally attempting to take advantage of the growing industry respectively increased in the first three months of 2023. The authorities indicated that gaming-related fraud might have been expected and worked with the operators to either prevent or sanction these as Macau continues the growth.