Macau Gambling Head Denies Money Laundering, Illegal Gaming

  • Alvin Chau started his trial for illegal gaming and other charges Monday
  • Chau provided lines of credit and collected debts from Chinese high rollers
  • The junket industry has almost entirely folded since Chau’s arrest
  • The southeast Asian gambling industry has taken hit after hit recently
Casino floor in Macau
Alvin Chau, prominent figure in Macau’s gambling scene, denied multiple charges related to illegal gambling in court Monday. [Image:]

Accusations against Alvin Chau

Alvin Chau, a well-known gambling executive in Macau, denied charges of illegal gaming, money laundering, and running a criminal syndicate during his trial on Monday. 

arrested on a warrant accusing him of illegal gambling on the Chinese mainland

Chau served as the chairman of Macau’s Suncity junket, which helps organize activities for Chinese high rollers. In December 2021, one month after he was arrested on a warrant accusing him of illegal gambling on the Chinese mainland, he was removed from the position.

Macau is the only Chinese region where casino gambling is permitted.

Crossing to mainland China

Chau informed the Chinese court Monday that he did not partake in any illegal gambling activities and that he was not involved in money laundering, according to public broadcaster TDM

Questions had also been raised over his interests in the Philippines, although he stated that his business had been regulated by local authorities. 

Chau’s line of business involves, among other areas, extending lines of credit to gamblers before collecting debt under the casinos’ authority. As is the case with casino gambling, soliciting credit is also illegal on the China mainland.

Chau maintained that no one from his group offered credit outside of Macau.

generated 25% of 2019 gaming revenue in Macau

The Suncity junket was one of Macau’s most successful prior to the coronavirus pandemic. According to industry executives, it generated 25% of 2019 gaming revenue in Macau, which totaled $36bn. The junket industry has crumbled in the wake of Chau’s arrest

Shortly after Chau’s arrest, all of Suncity’s VIP rooms were closed. Other competitors collapsed soon thereafter, with travel restrictions, COVID protocols, and an overall negative stigma hindering the market.

Problems in Macau and surrounding areas

Chau’s is not the only junket from Macau facing legal issues. In January, Levo Chan, second in the industry rankings, was arrested on suspicion of criminal organization, money laundering, and illegal gambling. He and Chau are both in a Macau prison.

The south Chinese region is well known for its luxurious entertainment offerings, specifically tied to gambling. Recently, a Malaysian billionaire named Lim Kok Thay applied for a gambling license in the area, bringing the number to seven total applicants.

There are only six available licenses.

the southeast Asian market has a long way to go to repair its image

Regardless of the rich suitors, the southeast Asian market has a long way to go to repair its image. In the Philippines, a battle between state authorities and a Japanese Mogul led to an attempted coup of the highly famous Okada Manila resort.

Over the weekend, 60 Vietnamese citizens escaped from a Cambodian casino. The event marked the second time this month that a group of Vietnamese have fled from a Cambodian casino.

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