Macau Gambling Kingpin Alvin Chau Jailed for 18 Years
Macau gambling kingpin Alvin Chau has been jailed for 18 years on over 160 charges including fraud, organised crime and illegal gambling.
The 48-year-old was a celebrity before his arrest in 2021. He was found guilty in a case that centred on illegal bets exceeding HK$823.7bn (£85.7bn; $105bn), and unlawful gains of hk$21.5bn
Chau is a high-profile and colourful figure in the local casino industry and was also the chairman and founder of Suncity Group, which was Macau’s biggest operator of junkets, or organised trips for wealthy gamblers to casinos.
It arranged for high rollers from mainland China to travel to Macau and gamble in the city’s casinos and offered loans to them. It also collected debts for casinos, and operated VIP rooms across Macau’s casinos.
The businessman, nicknamed “Junket King”, resigned as chairman in December 2021, days after his arrest.
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 HK$8.26bn in tax income. Chau however denied the charges.
After 4 months of trial, Macau’s court of first instance, ruled against Chau for most of the charges, but acquitted him of money laundering. The high-profile case also saw 12 other defendants, sentenced to jail.
Macau, a former Portuguese colony, is the only Chinese city where casino gambling is legal.
The gambling industry was hit hard by coronavirus restrictions, as well as a crackdown by the Chinese government, on money being moved out of the mainland.
In September, a court in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou jailed more than 30 people for cross-border gambling in connection with Chau’s case.
Suncity shut all of its VIP rooms after Chau’s arrest. But even before that the number of junkets in Macau had been on constant decline. There are now only 36 junket operators left, down from 100 in 2019, according to official figures.
Chau is a well-known figure in the Chinese-speaking world and a favourite among tabloids, which have focused mainly on his love affairs.
Local media labelled him Washing Rice Wa, after a sitcom character – though the name can also be seen as euphemism for money laundering.