Macau’s Junket Billionaire Alvin Chau Gets 18 Years in Jail for 100+ Charges

  • Macau’s court found Alvin Chau guilty of 103 crimes, including illegal gambling
  • The court ruled Chau was not guilty of money laundering, however
  • Chau’s Suncity was Macau’s biggest junket operator, luring affluent Chinese gamblers
  • Chau’s lawyer Pedro Leal said that his client would likely appeal the charges
Macau flat with handcuffs and gavel
The Court of First Instance in Macau has sentenced the gambling mecca’s junket kingpin, Alvin Chau, to 18 years in prison. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Gambling kingpin jail-bound

The Court of First Instance in China’s Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau has sentenced gambling kingpin Alvin Chau to 18 years in prison.

guilty of 103 offenses

The court handed out Chau’s sentence Wednesday, finding him guilty of 103 offenses, including organized crime and illegal gambling. On Twitter, journalist Bernice Chan shared the ruling on Chau, which comes over a year since his arrest in November 2021:

Macau prosecutors alleged Chau masterminded a criminal empire that facilitated undeclared bets, resulting in the SAR losing over HK$8.26bn (US$1.06bn) in tax income.

The court also found the 48-year-old former CEO of the Suncity Group guilty of one case of illegal betting that topped HK$823.7bn ($105bn). While the court ruled in favor of the prosecution for the majority of charges, it found Chau not guilty of money laundering.

Punishments aplenty

Chau, a celebrity billionaire flush with casino industry dollars, denied all charges against him. His Suncity Group was Macau’s biggest junket operator, luring affluent Chinese gamblers to the Asian gaming mecca and extended them credit.

Chinese officials arrested Chau and ten others in 2021

Despite heading to jail for a long stretch, however, Chau must have some relief the money laundering charge did not stick. When Chinese officials arrested Chau and ten others in 2021, they were investigating the group for money laundering and illegal cross-border gambling.

According to TDM Canal Macau, Chau’s case also involves 20 other defendants, eight of whom the court found guilty of “criminal association, the crime with the highest penalty.” The court found most of the 20 defendants guilty and handed out various prison and suspended prison sentences:

Chau appeal likely

The Financial Times cited Pedro Leal, a member of Chau’s legal team, who said he is “disappointed” by the court’s ruling, adding that his client is likely to appeal. Leal noted an alleged “lack of evidence” for the illegal gambling and fraud charges.

He then added:

VIP gambling will never be the same.”

Managing partner at IGamiX, Ben Lee, is singing from the same hymn sheet, affirming that Chau’s trial “means the end of the high volume and high-profile Macau junkets and VIP rooms.” He added that Macau will “out of necessity, need to find and grow the grind mass market, a Herculean task.”