Macau’s Gambling Kingpin Handed 18 Years in Jail

Alvin Chau, one of the most prominent figures in the Macau gambling scene, has been sentenced to 18 years in jail after being found guilty of more than 100 charges, including organized crime and illegal gaming.

Chau was first arrested in December 2021, together with 11 other people. The case against him was focused on illegal bets of more than HK$823.7 billion ($105 billion). Chau, who is well-known in the Macau casino industry, has consistently denied the charges.

Prior to his arrest, Chau was the chairman and director of Suncity Group Holdings, Macau’s largest operator of junkets. It brought high-roller gamblers from mainland China to play in Macau’s casinos and provided them with loans. It also collected debts on behalf of the casinos and ran VIP rooms in a number of them.

Within the industry, Chau was known as the “Junket King,” and he resigned soon after his arrest in 2021, causing the company’s shares to tumble.

Prosecutors claimed that Chau had formed a criminal syndicate that enabled undeclared bets. They calculated that he caused the government to lose more than HK$8.26 billion in tax. In court, he was found guilty of nearly all charges, but he was acquitted of money laundering.

Macau’s gambling industry has been under pressure from both coronavirus restrictions as well as a crackdown by the Chinese government on people moving money out of the mainland. Last September saw, a court in the city of Wenzhou, in eastern China, jailed more than 30 people connected to Chau for cross-border gambling.

Following Chau’s arrest, Suncity Group shut all of its VIP rooms. However, even prior to that, Macau’s junkets had been on the decline. Official figures say that there are now 36 junket operators left, down from 100 in 2019.

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