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MGM Cotai in Macau Site of suspected double homicide

Posted: May 9, 2022, 6:49 a.m.

Last update: May 9, 2022, 6:49 a.m.

MGM Cotai was the victim of a double homicide over the weekend, according to local police.

MGM Cotai Macao prostitution China
Suspected sex workers in Macau are arrested for soliciting customers at a casino in 2018. Macau police believe two prostitutes working illegally were murdered in a hotel room at the MGM Cotai casino over the weekend. (Picture: Macau Daily News)

In the early morning hours of Saturday May 7, Macau first responders responded to emergency calls from the multi-billion dollar in-app casino regarding two unconscious women. As the Macau Fire Department was first on the scene, it quickly became clear that it was a double homicide.

Police arrived at the 9th-floor hotel room around 1 a.m. local time on Saturday to find two naked women strangled to death. The crime scene was closed and a double homicide investigation ensued. Detectives combed through the room for around eight hours as police launched an investigation to identify and locate the killer(s).

Macau Judicial Police said each woman was allegedly strangled to death with a bathrobe belt. Detectives believe the person or persons responsible for the violent deaths attempted to clear the room before fleeing. Although it has not yet been officially confirmed, police believe the two women were likely illegal prostitutes.

Police did not say what caused the emergency call for help, or who discovered the dead bodies. MGM Cotai said it was cooperating with authorities.

MGM Cotai opened in February 2018 at a cost of $3.4 billion. Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts owns and operates the five-star casino property.

legal prostitution

Macau is best known for its glitzy casinos, but legal gambling isn’t the only permitted escape from ordinary life on the mainland that draws many people to the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Unlike anywhere else in the People’s Republic, prostitution is legal in Macau. Selling your body for sex is also legal in Hong Kong, the second and only other SAR in China.

However, street prostitution – the act of a sex worker soliciting customers in public, including in casinos – is illegal. Instead, legal brothels are permitted throughout the enclave.

Pimps and other sex organizers who do not operate in a licensed salon or brothel also face severe penalties. One of the most notable recent cases involves Alan Ho, the late Stanley Ho’s nephew who controlled Macau’s gambling industry for decades until the early 2000s.

Alan Ho was found guilty of running a street prostitution ring whose workers often solicited men inside casinos. Alan Ho in October last year was sentenced to eight years in prison.

MGM works to end human trafficking

MGM Resorts’ integrated Cotai resort may have been the site of the double murder involving the alleged prostitutes, but the global casino giant has been supporting efforts to end human trafficking and sex slavery for years .

In early 2018, MGM China signed an international pledge to help end modern slavery. By signing the Mekong Club Pledge, MGM has agreed to develop concrete steps to help rid the world of slavery and sex trafficking.

MGM executives at the time acknowledged that street prostitution is alive and well throughout Macau, including in its own casinos. MGM China says it has since surveyed its suppliers and third-party partners better to ensure that each company meets anti-slavery standards.

The US State Department says Macau “does not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”, but “is making considerable efforts to do so”.