The Macau casino industry is facing a surge in illegal transactions, according to data released by the Macau Financial Intelligence Office for the year 2023. The office reported a record number of 3,431 suspicious transactions, surpassing previous years’ figures.
Since 2006, the Financial Intelligence Office has been monitoring financial transactions in Macau. In 2023, the number of suspicious transactions reached an all-time high, causing concern among authorities and businesses alike. The office also collaborated with Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office, sending 116 transaction reports for potential investigation. However, it remains unclear which specific sectors these suspicious transactions may be coming from.
Under Macau’s financial laws, operators are required to report transactions worth at least MOP500,000 (US$62,075) to the local government. Despite this regulation, not all large transactions are necessarily flagged as suspicious, leading to challenges in identifying and preventing illicit financial activities.
The aggregate number of transactions in 2023 was nearly triple that of 2022. This increase is significant, especially considering that 2022 was still impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions, limiting the influx of international visitors to Macau. Surprisingly, the number of suspicious transactions in 2023 even exceeded the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
Notably, the percentage of suspicious transactions in Macau reached 74.4% in 2023, a staggering increase of 191.5% compared to 2022. As a result, a total of 4,614 transactions across all sectors came under scrutiny for potential illegal activities. These figures underscore the growing challenge of combating financial crime within the Macau casino industry.
Meanwhile, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau for 2023 reached MOP183.06 billion (US$22.73 billion), marking an impressive 333.8% increase from the previous year. This surge in revenue indicates the industry’s resilience and recovery post-pandemic, surpassing the 2019 levels by 62.9%.
The Financial Intelligence Office’s release of these figures emphasizes the need for stricter anti-money laundering and countering-the-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations in Macau. While the city’s casino industry experiences a financial boom, authorities are strategizing to address the rampant illegal financial activities taking place within the sector. These efforts are critical for maintaining a sustainable and legally compliant gambling industry in Macau.