Violent Crime Continues in Macau as Bandits Grab Gambling Chips Valued at $400,000
Posted on: May 24, 2019, 11:23h.
Last updated on: May 25, 2019, 01:02h.
Two brazen masked men robbed close to $400,000 worth of gambling chips from a roulette table early Friday after apparently spraying a security guard and dealer with pepper spray while on the gaming floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Macau, according to initial news reports.
Venue operator, Sands China, confirmed the robbery took place in the Plaza casino.
The croupier was near a gaming table and the officer was adjacent to the casino’s entrance when the violent theft unfolded. Police were notified of the incident at 5:35 am and local police later stepped up their enforcement in the region’s casinos and hotels.
The pair fled in a taxi. The investigation was continuing late into Friday, but no arrests were announced, GGRAsia reported.
Macau’s Judiciary Police estimated the chips were valued at about HKD3.1 million, which is approximately US$394,940. The robbery was in a “high-limit area” of the venue.
On Friday, Sands released a statement to Casino.org: “The incident that occurred at The Plaza Casino early morning May 24 is being investigated by the authorities, and Sands China Ltd. is fully cooperating with their investigation. The affected team members received prompt medical attention and the company is following up on their well-being, as team members’ safety is of paramount importance to the company. Sands China has no further comment at this time.”
The Plaza casino features 105,000 square feet of gambling area. There are designated rooms for VIP and premium players.
Neither of the employees were believed to be seriously injured.
Pepper spray can hurt the victim, given its active ingredient — oleoresin capsicum — can cause burning in the eyes, mouth, nose and throat. More serious incidents can lead to breathing problems and temporary blindness.
It appears to be increasingly common for bandits to use pepper spray while committing robberies. In February, two assailants used pepper spray on a store clerk in North Vegas Nevada before fleeing with cartons of cigarettes. While in March, three or more women pepper sprayed two employees and stole clothes from the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Killings Occur in Macau
The Macau pepper spray robbery marks the latest in bold criminal activity in the Chinese gaming enclave. Earlier this month, a Chinese man was found dead inside a guesthouse on Macau’s main peninsula after he was allegedly beaten by three loan sharks.
He was gagged by the assailants as they attacked him with belts and slippers over a $6,373 debt. Also, in May, four men from China were stabbed and one of them was killed during a struggle near the Four Seasons Macau.
It was only two days ago Judiciary Police officers and Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau officials met with security staff from the Venetian Macao resort hotel, another Sands China venue, to improve communications if an incident unfolded at the casino, GGRAsia reported.
Macau Crime Jumps in Q1
Crime linked to Macau’s gaming sector jumped 14.1 percent in Q1 of this year, with violent crime and kidnappings leading the surge, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said this month. Authorities recorded 438 criminal cases in the quarter.
Kidnapping skyrocketed by 34.4 percent, to 82 instances. Most kidnappings were conducted by loan-sharking groups inside casinos and most victims were tourists, Wong said.
Macau remains a popular destination for casino patrons and tourists alike. Enclave venues are pivoting away from the mainland’s wealthiest citizens to focus on attracting mass public.
VIP casino win once accounted for more than 70 percent of total gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau. Last year, it generated less than half of the casino win, which totaled $37.5 billion.
The government benefits, too, with the Special Administrative Region (SAR) taking in $4.18 billion in tax payments during 2019’s Q1. The casinos’ GGR in January through March was down 0.5 percent at $9.42 billion.