Macau – the biggest gambling hub in the world is under the spotlight once again after a recent investigation conducted by This Week in Asia found rampant prostitution operating in some of the city’s most popular casinos. This comes after the gambling hub recently faced hard-hitting criticism from the US State Department for not doing enough to address human trafficking.
Macau’s nightclubs that operate inside major casinos are found to be the main perpetrators of prostitution, ruining the lives of hundreds of girls who are lured to gambling hubs, supposedly to work as models or waitresses, only to end up being traded for sex. While individual prostitution is legal in Macau, entities that organize and make money from the sex trade may be put behind bars for a maximum of eight years.
Shocking Revelations
The probe by This Week in Asia uncovered that prostitution rackets are still plaguing the city, despite a high-profile crackdown on the practice at the Hotel Lisboa back in 2016. The investigating team obtained important data through interviews with police and with sources from the gaming industry.
The team also conducted site visits to eight nightclubs operating across the city to uncover the truth on what has become a recurring problem in a city. This is not the first time that Macau has had to deal with prostitution claims as Chinese President Xi Jinping asked the city to clean up its act during his 2014 speech to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Macau’s return to China.
While Macau has tried to build a more family-friendly image, its long-standing problems aren’t going away anytime soon.
Galaxy Casino And Emperor Entertainment Group Reported
Some of the nightclubs operating at major casinos were brokering agreements where nightclub workers were sold for sex to customers for as high as HK$6,800 (US$867), the investigation found. The nightclubs mentioned in the investigation were Wang Fu in Galaxy’s Star World Hotel, Endearing at the Galaxy Casino, as well as two others owned and operated by the Emperor Entertainment Group — a major entertainment firm listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
At the Galaxy Entertainment Group, women working at nightclubs as karaoke singers were being taken out by customers and brought to hotel rooms after their regular work and were paid for sex. The most shocking revelation from the report is that the apparent sex trade has been operating inside Galaxy Casino, one of the biggest casino resorts in the city, and with the knowledge of casino staff.
Female Workers Recruited Via Online Ads
This Week in Asia also found that the Endearing nightclub which is also located inside the Galaxy Casino, hires female workers hailing mostly from disadvantaged regions of mainland China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Russia.
These women are lured to the nightclub through enticing online advertising campaigns, promising them that they will make money if they just follow their training and will take a “dare”. During interviews, the women revealed their job was not limited to just providing entertainment inside the nightclub but were also being taken out by customers for sex.
Women Forced to Accommodate Violent Guests
This Week in Asia conducted undercover visits to the Endearing nightclub and found that a “mamasan” who is a member of the casino staff facilitates the price negotiations with customers, who want sexual services. These sex trade agreements are usually done while inside the club and are negotiated by club staff which is a clear violation of the law.
During negotiations with customers, girls are categorized according to quality, with a corresponding price. Women classed as “normal plates” are less expensive compared to the “super models” which carry a higher price tag. Prices range from HK$3,800 to HK$6,800, short or long hours, depending on the “quality” of the girl the customer wants to take out.
The women would often experience mistreatment from violent customers while they were providing sexual services. However, they are told to continue working and not complain or risk losing their jobs.
While the women clearly make money out of selling sex, they are still victims of exploitation,  with the management of the nightclubs also taking a relevant share of the money the women are paid in exchange for sex.
The casinos in question denied any link to prostitution operating in nightclubs and said they are deeply disturbed by the findings.