Two Macau residents have been arrested due to their alleged connection with a casino theft. The arrested individuals are men, they are referred to as Lei and Ho, aged 49 and 70 respectively. They were arrested in connection with a complaint stating that casino chips worth HK$47.9 million (US$6.1 million) were stolen from a Macau Casino.
The police gave a press conference on Friday and a Judiciary Police spokesperson revealed that the men who were arrested are related to each other. Police did not disclose the name of the casino which was affected by the US$6 million casino chip theft. Nevertheless, Wynn Macau Ltd has already confirmed they were the ones affected.
Wynn Macau, owned by the American real estate businessman and art collector Steve Wynn, is one of the two gambling venues in the possession of Wynn Macau Ltd. The other is Wynn Palace on Cotai.
According to the allegations, Lei, who worked in the security department of an unidentified casino, was on duty early in the morning on Tuesday at a casino VIP room. Vitaly Umansky, who works as an analyst at the investment firm Sanford Bernstein, says that rules and regulations concerning gambling in Macau are much more relaxed than those in Las Vegas. He goes on to explain that most of the high-stake gambling takes place in the so-called VIP rooms, which are not run by the gambling venues themselves, but by independent junket operators.
When there were no players or guests around, Lei allegedly converged a fellow colleague, working as a card dealer. Lei is said to have demanded that the woman keeps quiet and he allegedly made her place her upper body in a prone position across the card table. Then he returned to his own card table.
According to the filed complaint, it was then that Lei put the casino chips which had been inside the chip tray in a black bag. Then he undressed his uniform and placed in the same black bag. Afterwards, Lei made his way out of the building and took off on a motorcycle, allegations say.
The investigation lead to the revelation that Lei had arranged a meeting with the other arrested individual – Ho – later the same day. Police authorities are said to have interfered during that meeting and arrested both men.
Authorities say that Lei has already admitted that he had committed the crime and justified his actions by explaining to the police that he had been a hardcore gambler ever since his teenage years and presently was deep in debt. On the other hand, Ho, who was identified as Lei’s uncle, denied to have any connection with the crime.
Local casino regulator Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) posted a statement saying they had requested an official report on the part of the casino affected by the US$6 million casino chip theft. Additionally, the Bureau said it held a meeting with all six Macau gambling operators after the incident. The meeting was centered around the clamp down on surveillance in the operators’ gambling venues.
The only area in China where gambling is legalised is semi-autonomous Macau. The city is well-known as a money laundering centre for illicit casinos outside of China. What is more, even though casino thefts are not common in Macau, they are definitely not unheard of. Last September a Hong Kong police officer was accused of stealing HK$800,000 worth of casino chips from Macau’s Cotai Strip.