Alvin Chau Cheok-wa is the chairman of the Suncity Group, which is Macau’s biggest casino junket operator. — Eyepress Media pic via Reuters
Monday, 19 Sep 2022 8:44 PM MYT
MACAU, Sept 19 — A well-known Macau gambling boss in China’s special administrative region of Macau denied charges including enabling illegal gaming, running a criminal syndicate and money laundering at the start of his trial today.
Alvin Chau was chairman of Macau’s Suncity junket — which brokers the gambling activity of Chinese high rollers — until December 2021, a month after his arrest on a warrant from the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou accusing him of operating illegal gambling activities on the Chinese mainland.
Macau is the only city in China where citizens are legally permitted to gamble in casinos.
Chau told Macau’s primary court that he did not operate any illegal gambling or commit money laundering, according to public broadcaster TDM. He said his business in the Philippines was also permitted by local authorities there, TDM reported.
Junkets are middlemen who help facilitate gambling for wealthy Chinese in Macau, extending them credit and collecting on their debt on behalf of casino operators. Marketing or soliciting gambling in mainland China is illegal.
Chau said no one from Suncity Group had promoted gambling on the mainland.
Chau’s Suncity was a major player in Macau until 2019, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, accounting for around 25 per cent of total gaming revenues, industry executives said. That year, Macau casinos generated US$36 billion in revenue.
The junket industry has collapsed in the former Portuguese colony since Chau’s arrest with all of Suncity’s VIP rooms shuttered last December. Many others folded, hit by poor sentiment and a lack of business due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions.
Macau’s number two junket boss Levo Chan, who headed Tak Chun, was arrested by Macau police in January on suspicion of criminal organisation, illegal gambling and money laundering.
Both men remain in Macau prison, a far cry from the jewelled opulence of the VIP parlours they once presided over. — Reuters