Recently there was a fight in a casino where two groups of players fought each other, causing an uproar in the community and seriously affecting Macau’s image as a tourist city. Fortunately, the incident did not cause any harm to frontline staff and people in the casino, but it does highlight the potential security risks at the casino and its surroundings, as well as the safety and security of line staff. front. The Government and gaming companies should continue to review whether existing measures are adequate to deal with emergency situations, while maintaining social stability and staff safety.
From time to time, fights occur in the casinos. In the face of unexpected situations, croupiers can only protect their chips and remain in their seats. Security guards lack control powers and find it difficult to intervene. Furthermore, they fear that without adequate protection, if they are injured during the process or if there is a physical collision during the process, they could face personal safety issues and legal proceedings. On the other hand, frontline staff are often treated rudely by customers, but there are no comprehensive support measures in place to enable them to better protect their rights.
The gaming industry is the backbone of Macao’s economy. As the economy and tourism recover, it is necessary to create a good working environment that is safe for workers.
Gaming companies have committed to the Government to increase the number of security guards, as well as to improve the notification mechanism so that the police can intervene quickly in urgent cases. Relevant departments and companies are expected to improve the security work of casinos, increase the number of law enforcement officers stationed there, improve the security mechanism and support facilities. They are also expected to formulate and provide adequate measures and clear guidelines to better protect the safety of employees so that they can work without worry.
At the same time, the number of gambling-related crimes in 2021 and 2022 has almost halved compared to 2019 – before the epidemic – as a result of a reduction in visitor numbers and gambling activities. However, with the easing of customs control policies and a significant increase in the arrival of visitors, it is feared that illegal activities of money exchange, violence and loan sharking will resume and become more subtle. Five homicides between 2021 and May 2023 were related to the illegal exchange of money.
These days loan sharks run a professional operation, and whenever one group is eliminated, another takes over. Furthermore, the penalties applied to moneylenders in Macao are too lenient.
They are subject to deportation and entry ban when arrested. This is particularly ineffective if the participants are local residents. Generally speaking, the deterrent effect is not enough.
In addition to strengthening inspections, the authorities should consider the possibility of criminalizing and aggravating penalties, in order to reinforce the deterrent effect and reduce the problem of loan sharks.
*Federation of Macao Workers’ Associations