MGM Cotai was the sight of a double homicide over the weekend, local police say.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, May, 7, Macau first responders answered to emergency calls from the multibillion-dollar integrated casino resort regarding two unconscious females. While the Macau Fire Department was first on the scene, it became quickly apparent that the incident was a double homicide.
Police arrived at the 9th-floor hotel room around 1 am local time on Saturday to find two naked women strangled to death. The crime scene was closed off, and a double homicide investigation ensued. Detectives combed the room for some eight hours, as police launched a probe to identify and locate the killer or killers.
Macau’s Judiciary Police said each woman is thought to have been strangled to death with a bathrobe belt. Detectives believe the person(s) responsible for the violent deaths attempted to clean the room before fleeing. While it has not yet been officially confirmed, police think the two women were likely illegal prostitutes.
Police did not detail what caused the emergency call for assistance, or who first discovered the lifeless bodies. MGM Cotai said it is cooperating with authorities.
MGM Cotai opened in February of 2018 at a cost of $3.4 billion. Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts owns and operates the five-star casino property.
Macau is best known for its glitzy casino resorts, but legal gambling isn’t the only permitted escape from ordinary life on the mainland that draws many to the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR). Unlike everywhere else in the People’s Republic, prostitution is legal in Macau. Selling one’s 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 casinos — is illegal. Instead, legal brothels are permitted across the enclave.
Pimps and other sex organizers not conducting their business in a licensed parlor or brothel, also face heavy penalties. One of the more noteworthy recent cases involved Alan Ho, the nephew of the late Stanley Ho who controlled Macau’s gaming industry for decades until the early 2000s.
Alan Ho was convicted of running a street prostitution ring whose workers often solicited men inside casinos. Alan Ho in October of last year was sentenced to eight years in prison.
MGM Working to End Human Trafficking
MGM Resorts’ Cotai integrated resort might have been the site of the double murder involving the assumed prostitutes, but the global casino giant has for years been supporting efforts to end human trafficking and sex slavery.
In early 2018, MGM China signed an international pledge to help end modern slavery. By signing the Mekong Club pledge, MGM agreed to develop actionable 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 inside its own casinos. MGM China says it has since better probed its vendors and third-party partners to make sure each business is complying with anti-slavery standards.
The US State Department says Macau “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” but “it is making significant efforts to do so.”
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