Criminal scammers are having a field day in Macau even though the VIP casino gambling market is struggling to hold its own amidst the dramatic drop in gaming tourists this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the gaming industry hard, with tourists opting to keep away from the tables for now. Gambling is the primary revenue-earning component of Macau’s economy as gamers flock to the island, driven by gambling restrictions in the mainland.
Despite the prevailing adverse conditions, gambling scammers are having a field day, even though the Macau police seem to think otherwise. A report released by the Macau Judiciary Police for crimes committed in the first six months of 2020 puts new criminal investigations at 4,691, a significant drop of a third over the corresponding period of last year.
Surprisingly, the report failed to mention any cases related to the gambling industry. Considering that gambling loan sharks and unscrupulous lenders have a considerable presence in the crime scene of Macau, the report has caught most crime statisticians on the island on the wrong foot who have questioned the authenticity of the report.
However, the Judiciary Police have justified their findings and omission of cases that are related to the gaming industry in their report. They said that “the statistics on crimes involving the gaming industry in the first half of 2020 are not representative.” The steep fall gaming visitors and game-related crime is because of the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus epidemic, which are yet to be relaxed.
The judiciary police also noted that in the first half of this year, there had been a sharp reduction in kidnappings by 83% over last year, new cases being 29 only. However, most of them have been aggressive detention of gamblers who occupy loans at very high interest from loan sharks.
Scam incidents and frauds, though, have only declined marginally by 25%, given that the gaming scenario for all practical purposes is not functioning even at half steam. Fraud remains a huge threat and on Monday, the police arrested four people on a duping case. They have allegedly purchased $1.37M value of casino chips from a local by palming off worthless “practice” banknotes that are only used to train cashiers and tellers at casinos.
Shady junket operators are left with no other option as the VIP room has suspended operations and they are faced with a severe liquidity crunch.