According to a report from the state-owned Teledifusao de Macau (TDM) television and radio broadcaster, Thursday saw police in the former Portuguese enclave reveal that they had arrested four local residents along with 13 Chinese nationals in connection with the ring, which is alleged to have utilized the WeChat social media platform in order to stream two to three real-time VIP baccarat games a day from an unidentified Cotai Strip casino.
TDM reported that the service was marketed towards gamblers in mainland China and that each daily session was alleged to have involved around 40 to 50 players. While an agent played at the table, the ring purportedly employed others to stream the action on a smartphone while additional employees were responsible for relaying customers’ individual directions from a spot located outside of the casino.
The broadcaster also reported that agents inside the casino were paid approximately $1,280 per month while some customers are believed to have funded their activities via the Alipay online payments platform.
“The suspects charged [customers] a 5% exchange commission and they would have their people gambling for their customers and then reporting the results live on the group chat,” police spokesperson Choi Ian Fai told TDM. “They also had an account in the casino VIP room so they just kept betting a total of $102,500 to $115,300 per day in order to earn extra commission.”
TDM additionally reported that police raided the Zape Strip apartment of one of the syndicate’s alleged ring-leaders after being tipped-off last month and had seized five laptop computers and mobile telephones, all of which contained information relating to gamblers, along with cash and gambling chips worth almost $217,900.
Police reportedly revealed that seven of the suspects had been detained while inside the mystery casino while a second supposed ringleader is still at large. The case has now been handed over to the Public Prosecutions Office and the arrested could face serious charges of running a criminal syndicate and an illegal gambling business.
Last week moreover reportedly saw Macau police arrest six people suspected of operating an illegal loan-sharking ring that began in 2013 by targeting casino dealers and taxi drivers.
TDM reported that the illicit operation is thought to have earned at least $641,000 with its agents, who were hired from mainland China, tasked with looking for new clients while posing as tourists.
“The two mainland ring-leaders first set up a loan company in Zhuhai offering loans ranging from between $3,800 and $19,200 with an interest rate of 10%,” Ian Fai told TDM. “The rate would then rise to 120% if borrowers failed to repay their loan within a year.”
Police reportedly seized 55 loan agreements worth about $256,400 during a raid on the enterprise’s premises while local prosecutors are now handling the case and searching for additional suspects.