Macau Casinos Report 52% Fewer Suspicious Transactions in 2020

  • Casinos logged 464 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) for the first six months of 2020
  • 49% of all STRs in Macau were from casinos in 2020, compared with 70.2% in 2019
  • Reporting threshold for gaming is still $62,667 despite extensive anti-money laundering practices
  • Macau casinos are currently struggling due to coronavirus closures, travel restrictions
casino patrons at the Venetian in Macau
The number of suspicious transactions reported by Macau casinos fell by 52% for the first half of 2020. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Some positive news

Casino operators in Macau have issued 52% fewer Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) for the first six months of 2020 compared with the same period last year. The statistics were published by the city’s Financial Intelligence Office. 

The total sum of STRs for games of fortune was 464, a decrease from the 966 that came out in the first half of 2019. This accounts for 49% of all STRs on the island, compared with a 70.2% share in 2019.

A 31.2% drop in STRs was also registered across all industries in Macau. Insurance companies and financial institutions saw 332 suspicious transactions in comparison to 381 for the same period in 2019. 

Rectifying previous issues

The authorities in Macau have ramped up efforts to crack down on suspicious transactions through implementing more extensive anti-money laundering practices over the recent years.

threshold that requires casinos to report “large” transactions was, however, kept at the same MOP500,000 ($62,667) level

Revisions made to such practices in 2016 were set to tighten rules for reporting. The threshold that requires casinos to report “large” transactions was, however, kept at the same MOP500,000 ($62,667) level.

2019 saw casinos send 1,913 total reports of suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Office. This showed an annual drop of 8.3% from the 2,087 reports issued in 2018. The latest figures reported indicate that 2020 is on track to lower the number of reports again.

China has continued to step up its fight against errant gamblers in the country. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security recently created a public online reporting platform to help battle cross-border gambling.

Current situation in Macau

Casinos in Macau have had a difficult 2020 so far in terms of revenue. This is largely due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, which caused a 15-day total shutdown of casinos in February. Visitor numbers have also been at record lows due to extensive restrictions on travel to and from mainland China and Hong Kong. 

lowest-ever monthly gaming revenue total in June

Macau saw its lowest-ever monthly gaming revenue total in June, as well as the largest percentage decline year-on-year. A report from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, published on July 1, registered a 97% drop for the gambling capital of the world when compared with the same month in 2019. 

Gaming revenue was only $89.7m in the ninth consecutive month to report an annual revenue decline. The first six months of 2020 generated $18.7bn, a 77.4% drop from last year.

With Macau relying heavily on the gambling industry, the government expects casino operators to make further redundancies. It is also planning to cut its annual budget by 10%, imposing austerity measures.