The saga of Alvin Chau, one of Macao’s high-profile gambling promoters and considered one of the strongest influencers to make Macao known as the gambling capital of Asia, finally reached its conclusion on Wednesday the 18th of January 2023. The region’s public broadcaster, TDM revealed that Chau has been handed down the sentence to serve 18 years in prison for racketeering and illegal gambling activities.
Chau was the former chairman of Suncity Group. They are a Macao-based company that built its business as among the biggest players in the region’s gambling industry. It arranged for high rollers from mainland China to travel to Macau and gamble in the territory’s casinos and offered loans to them. It also collected debts for casinos and operated VIP rooms across Macau’s casinos.
Macao, a former Portuguese colony, is the only Chinese city where casino gambling is legal.
The 18-year prison sentence comes on top of the court’s order for Chau to pay more than HKD 6.5 billion or USD 830 million to the Macao government. Along with this is an additional order to also pay 22.7 million to 98 million to a number of casino operators.
Prosecutors had accused Chau of creating and leading a criminal syndicate that had facilitated undeclared bets. They said that as a result, the government lost more than HKD8.26 billion in tax income.
The court ruled in favour of the prosecutors for most of the charges but acquitted Chau of money laundering. The high-profile case also involves 20 other defendants.
Pedro Leal, Chau’s lawyer, told TDM who reached out to hear his side of the story after the ruling, expressed that though he had not been in touch with Chau recently, he will surely recommend appealing the decision.
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Backgrounder on the arrest of Chau
Back in November 2002, Chau was first arrested in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang as reported by state media, CCTV. on November 2020, according to state media CCTV.
There were more than 100 charges including organised crime and illegal gaming.
Suncity shut all of its VIP rooms after Chau’s arrest. But even before that, the number of junkets in Macau had been on a constant decline. There are now only 36 junket operators left, down from 100 in 2019, according to official figures.
Carlos Lobo, a Macau-based gaming consultant, further gave details on how junkets influenced the gambling industry in Macao. He digressed, “Suncity accounts for over 50% of junket revenue (in Macau), which accounts for roughly 50% of gaming revenues, so Suncity accounts for 25% of gaming revenues. The impact on the gambling industry is huge … But (Suncity) is no longer too big to fail, the system will not collapse.”
The territory Macao with only 32.9 sq. km in area counts its population at 600,000 people. They are just an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong. The lifeblood here is tourism and mostly those who partake of the numerous casino resorts and establishments in one compact location. But since the pandemic, it has seen stagnation in its economy.
It is good to see that there was a kingpin of sorts who got reprimanded for illicit gambling practices. The consequences of such actions do affect the government greatly. Much like how our situation in illegal POGOs is affecting those who are practising the right thing when it comes to the gambling industry. Makes me wonder if we’ll be able to bring justice to those victimized by these bad actors. Do you have the same sentiments, too? Just comment below. We always look forward to hearing from you guys. Thanks!