Macau’s Judiciary Police (PJ) reported a significant rise in gaming-related crimes, with 579 cases documented from January to May 2024, marking a 75.5% increase compared to the same period in the previous year.

Throughout these five months, there were 104 instances of loansharking and 17 related detentions, according to a report published by Inside Asian Gaming. These figures represent a significant year-on-year rise, with loansharking cases alone increasing by 86 and related detentions by 14. The PJ also noted a surge in theft and failure to report found objects, predominantly occurring in high-traffic gaming districts.

Moreover, gaming-related fraud cases saw an uptick, increasing by 52 cases to 130. The PJ highlighted that approximately 66.7% of these fraud cases were intricately linked to money exchange gangs.

From January to May, the PJ, in collaboration with the Public Security Police, apprehended 1,924 individuals associated with money exchange gangs. Of these, 927 were referred to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) to be placed on the list of individuals prohibited from entering casinos. Additionally, 30 Macau residents were identified for their involvement in illegal money exchange activities, leading to the initiation of administrative penalty procedures against them.

Despite these developments, the PJ noted that no cases of murder or kidnapping were recorded in Macau during this period, and serious crimes maintained a low occurrence rate, ensuring stable social security. However, the increase in crimes related to the gaming and tourism sectors, particularly fraud and information crimes, remains a concern.

Tourism Insights: Over 1 Million International Visitors in First Half of 2024

Provisional data from the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) indicates that Macau received 1.1 million international visitors in the first half of 2024, as stated by MGTO Deputy Director Ricky Hoi.

The Deputy Director projected that Macau is on track to surpass 2 million foreign visitors by the end of the year. This forecast suggests a significant recovery from the 1.4 million visitors recorded in 2023, though it still falls short of the over 3 million international arrivals in 2019.

Hoi mentioned that the MGTO is actively working to diversify its international visitor base. One strategy involves partnering with cruise ship operators in Hong Kong to facilitate one-day excursions to Macau for up to 500 passengers.

According to Hoi, in addition to these efforts, the MGTO plans to launch an extensive tourism promotion campaign for Macau in the latter half of 2024.

In recent months, Macau has conducted a series of roadshows in international markets such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan. These initiatives aim to boost the city’s profile and attract more visitors from these regions.

The rise in gaming-related crimes juxtaposed with the efforts to revive international tourism highlights the complex dynamics Macau faces as it navigates the challenges and opportunities of 2024. While the increase in crime poses a significant issue for local authorities, the influx of tourists brings hope for economic recovery and growth in the post-pandemic era.