- Suspects used tampered chips to scam a Cotai casino out of HKD1.62 million
- The culprits were allegedly part of a criminal group with associates in mainland China
- Macau slot machine revenue for 2023 has surpassed 2019 levels
A Cotai casino has fallen victim to a massive gaming chip fraud carried out by an alleged “criminal group”. Macau authorities revealed that the casino lost approximately HKD1.62 million (US$207,087) arising from the crime.
Multiple suspects have been arrested but they have all denied any involvement, according to the police. Investigations are ongoing.
Cotai Casino Targeted by Alleged Criminal Group
Disclosing the details of the case, Lei Hon Nei, spokeswoman for the Macau Judiciary Police (MJP), told reporters during a press briefing this week that the perpetrators doctored gaming chips owned by the unnamed casino operator.
Legitimate chips with an original face value of only HKD 100 had been tampered with to indicate a higher face value of HKD 10,000, Ms. Nei said. The suspects used some of the tampered chips to play baccarat and exchanged them for cash. The incident happened on Saturday, January 20, according to the crime report filed by the casino operator.
Based on the casino’s surveillance record, the culprits were able to cash out HKD1.22 million via the tampered chips on Jan 20 before their illegal activity was detected by the dealers on duty. Ms. Lei said another suspect tried to convert three tampered chips into cash at the cage but got caught. Authorities gathered 33 fraudulent chips at the venue.
Macau police have since arrested five men within the city for alleged involvement in the crime, all of them hailing from mainland China. They have all denied any involvement in the fraudulent activity. Authorities believe the arrested individuals were part of a criminal group with cohorts on the mainland.
Macau authorities are currently cooperating with law enforcement agencies in mainland China to hunt down other members of the alleged criminal group. Three individuals have been arrested so far in the Guangdong cities of Zhongshan and Zhuhai, with at least one suspect remaining at large.
Slot Machine Revenue per Unit in 2023 Surpassed 2019 Levels
Gaming-related crimes are expected to rise in Macau as casino operations return to normalcy following the pandemic. The city’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) continues to recover, reaching MOP183.06 billion in 2023. Of that figure, slot games contributed MOP10.92 billion.
The average revenue generated by each slot machine throughout the year exceeded 2019 levels (MOP909,583 vs. MOP890,000)