Macau’s gaming industry saw a substantial increase in gross gaming revenue last month, signaling a positive turn for the region’s struggling gambling sector. Despite the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry rebounded with a 435% year-on-year increase in November, reaching nearly $2 billion in gross gaming revenue.
While this figure was slightly lower than October’s record-breaking revenue of over $2.4 billion, experts attribute this to the boost provided by the National Day Golden Week holiday. The year-to-date gross gaming revenue has also seen a significant 325% increase, totaling around $20 billion. If the industry continues at this pace, it may reach its $27 billion target in 2024.
However, the industry’s recovery has been marred by an increase in gambling-related crime. Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, revealed that authorities have identified 716 gambling-related crimes this year. Cases of gambling-related fraud and theft have seen alarming spikes, with a 139% increase in fraud cases and a staggering 486% increase in casino thefts compared to the previous year.
Despite the increase in criminal activity, the number of gambling-related cases is still 55.2% lower than in 2019. Money exchange fraud around the region’s casinos has also been a significant concern for authorities, prompting calls for new laws to combat these activities. The Judiciary Police has proposed criminalizing illegal money exchange activities in an effort to deter such criminal behavior.
In addition to these concerns, there have been reports of the region’s Prosecutor’s Office seeking to reinstate fraud charges against Alvin Chau and Suncity. Chau, who was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison, had his team relieved of paying penalties by the Court of Second Instance. This development adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing challenges facing Macau’s gambling industry.