Alvin Chau, once one of Macau’s highest-profile gambling promoters, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being caught in Beijing’s crackdown on capital outflows and cross-border offences in the Chinese territory’s gaming industry.
Chau, the former chair of Suncity Group, the Chinese gambling hub’s biggest “junket” operator, was convicted of illegal gambling, fraud and involvement in a criminal organisation. He was not convicted of money laundering charges.
Junket businesses enjoyed a lucrative trade supporting casino operators by extending credit to lure wealthy Chinese high-rollers to Macau, which outstripped Las Vegas in gaming revenues prior to the pandemic.
But Macau suffered dramatic losses after it was effectively cut off from the rest of the world and mainland China under Beijing’s zero-Covid policy of containing the virus.
Chau was arrested in 2021 over alleged cross-border gambling offences, while an Australian government inquiry in 2021 accused him and Suncity of links to organised crime groups.
The former “junket king” was the highest-profile target of Beijing’s efforts to exert greater control over Macau’s gambling industry and limit capital outflows.
Levo Chan, the former chief executive of the second-largest junket business, Tak Chun Group, was detained the same year, while Chinese authorities imposed tougher regulations on casinos.