Macau suspicious gambling transactions show sharp increase in Q4 but still drop in 2019

According to statistics from the Financial Intelligence Office, the anti-money laundering watchdog of Macau, suspicious gambling transaction reports, or gambling STRs, sharply rose 33% in the last three months of 2019.

In Q4 2018, there were 400 gambling STRs and 637 STRs overall but in Q4 2019 there were 531 gambling STRs and 852 STRs overall, a jump of 33% and 34% respectively.

For the year as a whole, overall STRs dropped from 3,716 in 2018 to 2,941 in 2019, a marked 20.8% drop but gambling’s share dropped at a lower rate, from 2,087 to 1,913, or an 8.3% drop. Gambling operators continue to contribute the most reports, having contributed 65% of the STRs in 2019 compared to 56% in 2018.

Other sources of STRs include financial institutions and insurance companies which, for the year, dropped from 1,122 to 880, a 21.5% drop and other institutions which dropped from 507 to 148, a 70.8% drop.

Globally, Macau’s large transaction threshold remains much higher than recommended international standards. In a 2018 report, a US government agency identified Macau and Philippines as two hotspots for money laundering due to their reporting threshold being much higher than the US$3,000 (MOP 25,000) recommended. Macau’s reporting threshold is currently US$61,900 (MOP 500,000).