According to the latest data released by the Secretary’s Office for Security the total face value of counterfeit gaming chips found either in use or attempted use within Macau during 2019 reached almost HKD18.5 million (US$ 2.4 million), the highest tally in the past three years. In 2019, the pace of increase in recorded gaming-related crimes also accelerated, led by usury and scam cases.
Police in Macau discovered the use of 352 falsified gaming chips during 2019, according to data released by the Secretary’s office on Friday. Total face value of falsified gaming chips found in use in Macau in 2018 and 2017 was nearly HKD5.9 million and nearly HKD9.9 million respectively.
The office did not provide a breakdown on the 2019 bogus casino currency distribution in terms of the number of cases affected and the casino locations. But it noticed that a large number of gaming currency tokens–176 of them–were bearing HKD100,000 face value. About 158 had a face value of HKD5,000; and the others were either HKD10,000, HKD1,000, or HKD500 denominated.
Much of the fake currency identified in the city in 2019 compensated for the fake casino chips found in the city.
During that year, the Judiciary Police of Macau received reports of a total of 2,157 gaming-related crimes, and launched inquiries into them. That was an increase of 14.5 percent compared to the 1,884 gaming-related crimes committed in 2018, the latest police data show. The count of gaming-crime in 2018 represented a 2 percent rise from 2017 year-on-year.
Police forces in the city mark incidents as gaming-related when they arise inside a casino or around it.
The Macau Police investigated a total of 602 gaming-related usury cases in 2019, a crime more commonly known as loan-sharking. Compared with the previous year, the count represented an 8.7 percent increase. In most cases the perpetrators and alleged victims were citizens from outside Macau, the Security Secretary’s office noted in its Friday overview of the statistics of the crime.
In 2019 a total of 353 cases of alleged unlawful detention related to gaming have been reported. Of that number, loan-sharking behaviours were correlated with 345 incidents, the bureau data showed. In one case where police intervened in May, a suspected killer was found dead in a nearby inn. The guy, in relation to an unpaid gambling debt, was allegedly illegally detained and physically assaulted by the captors.
The Secretary’s office acknowledged in the Friday announcement that some of the gaming-related loan-sharking cases seen last year were accounted for by “cross-border criminal groups” The office promised to continue collaborating with police forces in nearby regions and countries in the fight against such violence. Authorities also highlighted Macau’s police cooperation in neighbouring Zhuhai, Guangdong province, stopping two loan-sharking “cross-border” parties in October and November. The action involved the confiscation of 5.5 million HKD and 400,000 HKD in alleged criminal assets, respectively.
Police forces at the city have conducted a total of 456 suspected gaming-related crimes in 2019, which was more than 209 incidents in 2018, the bureau said. Individuals who fell victim to such scams were mostly either trying to change real money and were falsified in return, or were trying to transfer money and were known to people who were engaged in illegal money exchange operations, the office stated.