Macau Police Say Gambler Beaten to Death by Loan Sharks Over $6300 Debt

Posted on: May 7, 2019, 08:08h. 

Last updated on: May 7, 2019, 08:08h.

Macau police allege a Chinese man found dead inside a guesthouse on the enclave’s main peninsula was the victim of a brutal beating at the hands of three loan sharks.

Macau police loan sharks casino debt
Macau police say three men beat a gambler to death for not paying his debt. (Image: Macau Business)

Judiciary Police believe a man who held an HKD50,000 ($6,373) gambling debt was attacked over his outstanding liability. Law enforcement spokesman Leng Kam Lon said the men “used their belts and slippers to beat him in order to force him to repay the debt.” Police explained the man was “gagged so that he could not call for help.”

The incident occurred in a guesthouse in the Nam Van district. The attack, Leng says, was videotaped by the alleged assailants. The cell phone footage was sent to the victim’s family “hurrying them to repay the debt.”

Police aren’t clear when the man died, and haven’t provided his name or age. The penalty for kidnapping that leads to death carries a prison sentence of five to 15 years.

Loansharking, Fraud Increasing

Macau has taken steps to reduce its reliance on VIP high rollers. More attention has been given to the mass market by way of non-gaming attractions and amenities, which comes as a result of China President Xi Jinping suppressing junket groups that cater to the mainland’s elite.

While the People’s Republic might have successfully curbed mainland high rollers from moving money through the tax haven of Macau, instances of financial crime are rising.

Macau Security Secretary Wong Sio Chak reported in February that more than 3,000 people were apprehended last year on suspicion of loansharking or other financial fraud. Crimes involving fraud skyrocketed 31.3 percent, and loansharking 26.8 percent.

Wong said the vast majority of the crimes took place in and around the enclave’s casinos. Macau police deported 2,269 of the 3,050 suspected criminals and told those individuals not to return.

Macau Murders

The six licensed casino operators in the world’s richest gambling hub won more than $37.8 billion last year. With so much money at stake, illicit individuals naturally flock to the region.

The recent death allegedly at the hands of loan sharks wasn’t the first in the Special Administrative Region this year.

In January, police said a 41-year-old man found dead inside Sands’ Conrad Macau hotel was the victim of a loansharking attack. A 27-year-old man was later charged with fatally stabbing the gambler.

Violent crime involving casino activity of course isn’t limited to Macau. A Reno, Nevada, gambler was sentenced to life in prison last fall after being found guilty for the 2016 murder of a casino assistant shift manager at the Eldorado Casino. 

Macau has implemented various technologies and protections to curb money laundering. ATM machines are now equipped with facial recognition, and daily cap limits regulate how much a patron can withdraw.

The anti-money laundering protections, however, could be spurring illegal activities. Earlier this year, Macau police infiltrated a so-called “underground bank” that reportedly processed more than $4.4 billion in transactions. The network catered to high rollers wanting to withdraw large sums of money without leaving a paper trail.