Prostitution rings running rampant and in plain sight

Prostitution rings are thriving in some of Macau’s resorts where casino executives and local authorities allegedly turn a blind eye or even profit from the business, reported the South China Morning Post over the weekend.
An investigation by the Hong Kong newspaper found that nightclub workers at several Macau properties were offering sex in exchange for money. The activities, which were reported to occur at venues inside properties operated by Galaxy Entertainment Group and Emperor Entertainment Group, were also said to involve female pimps, known as “mamasans”.
Individual prostitution is legal in Macau, however the law forbids both organizing and profiting from the sex trade.
Over the course of its investigation, the SCMP said it visited nightclubs inside Galaxy Macau and Star World Hotel, both operated by Galaxy Entertainment Group, and learned that customers would pay up to HKD6,800 for such services. Similar activities were also confirmed at nightclubs inside Grand Emperor Hotel and L’Arc Hotel.
The news comes as the Macau government is stepping up its efforts to combat human trafficking in the region and as the city works to substitute the shadier parts of its reputation for a more family-friendly image. It also follows a high-profile crackdown in January 2015 when Alan Ho, nephew of casino magnate Stanley Ho, was arrested over ties to a prostitution ring operating inside the Hotel Lisboa.
According to the investigation, the shady practice comes with the physical and mental abuse of young women well-documented in other locations where organized prostitution is illegal and driven underground.
Most of the women working at the nightclubs come from impoverished provinces in mainland China, or from Vietnam, Russia and Taiwan. They are usually recruited via online advertising campaigns that hint – though do not explicitly state – that sexual services or other illicit activities will be a part of the job.
A veteran police officer in Macau told the SCMP that exploitation of young women is rife in the prostitution market, even as “there is money to be made by the girls that they could never hope to make in their poverty-stricken home provinces and countries.”
“A cynic may argue that they know what they are getting into and do so with their eyes wide open. But these girls are clearly vulnerable economically and once they get here are strictly controlled and monitored by mamasans with connections to the underworld,” added the officer, who the SCMP said was still serving in the police force.
The unidentified source also said that the operations are conducted in plain sight and that some casino management staff were even profiting from them.
“It is also known that the management of the nightclubs where they work take a significant cut of the fee customers are charged to take the girls out for sex. This is a crime in Macau but often – apart from the occasional sweep to expel illegal workers to make it look like something is being done – an official blind eye is turned to what is actually going on.”
A spokesperson for Galaxy Entertainment Group told the SCMP that the company was “deeply disturbed” by the findings of the investigation, however stressed that the nightclubs in Galaxy Macau and Star World Hotel are owned and operated by third parties.
“We are deeply disturbed by the allegations since all retailers at our properties are expected to conduct their business in a reputable manner and in compliance with the laws and regulations in Macau,” said the company in a statement cited by the SCMP, before recommending that further enquiries be directed to the nightclub operators.
A representative of Emperor Entertainment Group also distanced itself from the third parties that own and operate the premises under questions, adding that the company was “not aware of any of the activities you allege.”
The SCMP said that attempts to contact the operators of the nightclubs were unsuccessful. DB

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