Macau Sees Record-High STRs as Authorities Report Increase

The Financial Intelligence Office in Macau has released concerning data about the thriving illegal transactions in the casino industry. According to the office’s data from 2023, the rate of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) has reached an all-time high.

In 2023, there were 3,431 suspicious transactions, as reported by the Financial Intelligence Office. This marks a significant increase from previous years since the office began tracking transactions in 2006. The office has also collaborated with Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office, sending them 116 transaction reports for potentially suspicious transactions. However, the specific sectors to which these reports are related are still unknown.

Operators in Macau are obligated by law to report all transactions worth at least MOP500,000 or US$62,075 to the local government. Despite the large sums of money involved, not all transactions are deemed suspicious. The aggregated transactions for 2023 were nearly three times higher than those in 2022, and significantly surpassed the numbers from 2019, the year before the pandemic.

The STR percentage in Macau, according to GGRAsia, was 74.4%, with a total of 4,614 transactions across all sectors. This represents a 191.5% increase from 2022 and an even larger increase of 187.6% from 2019. However, the Financial Intelligence Office declined to comment on these recent numbers.

Aside from the concerning increase in suspicious transactions, Macau’s casino industry has seen a significant boost in revenue. The gross gaming revenue (GGR) for 2023 reached MOP183.06 billion, or US$22.73 billion, marking a 333.8% increase from the previous year and a 62.9% increase from 2019. These results have exceeded expectations, as the industry has worked to recover from the repercussions of the global pandemic and has implemented new anti-money laundering and countering-the-financing of terrorism regulations.

The increase in revenue comes as a surprise after the city’s August announcement that the market was expected to recover to 2019 levels. Despite these positive results, the concerning trend of illegal transactions in the casino industry in Macau remains an issue that needs to be addressed.