Main Menu
Top of Page
Top of Page
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email

Welcome to the News desk.

Alvin Chau arrested in Macau, China, over illegal cross-border gambling 30/11/21
• Share prices fall across all Macau casino operators

Initial reports from Macau police indicating that they were questioning Alvin Chau have been superseeded by confirmation of his arrest. This comes after a previously unnamed Chinese city issued an arrest warrant for the junket king, accusing him of operating gambling activities in mainland China.
Night View of Macau
Night time view of Macau
Casino gambling is illegal in China outside of Macau, which has long since overtaken Las Vegas as the world's largest gambling hub by turnover. Lately that position has come under threat.

Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, a coastal city in the Zhejiang province with more than 9 million residents, said on Friday 26th Nov that investigations had uncovered a junket agent network on the mainland that had the purpose of enabling citizens to engage in offshore and cross-border gambling.

Casino Junkets

Casino junkets in themselves are not illegal in Macau, they are a long established vehicle for casinos all over the world to bring potential VIP customers through the doors. Essentially a casino makes a deal with a group of gamblers through a third party organiser, like Chau, to pay part of their travel costs and offer rooms at reduced or no cost in exchange for the customers depositing money with them that they then play on the tables.

Alvin Chau first came to the fore as an organiser of a high-roller table, mostly baccarat, in Wynn Macau's casino in 2007 under the company name Suncity. Suncity Group Holdings Ltd, publicly listed in Hong Kong, has since mushroomed into a conglomerate with thousands of staff trading in many businesses from integrated resort management to selling motorcars. Chau's sideline of junket organiser is not included.

The size of Chau's junket operations are by some estimates enormous, accounting for anything up to 25% of Macau's total gaming revenue.

Suncity targeted by Chinese media

In 2019 Chinese media, heavily backed by the state, indicated that Suncity was promoting online gambling which lead to great harm and not inline with China's social economic order. Suncity responded to this by saying that it did not operate online gambling portals in anyway.

In this latest attack the Wenzhou police said that Chau was the leader of a "crime syndicate" with more than 12,000 gambling agents who have recruited over 80,000 gamblers as members. The security authorities went on to say, "the amount of money involved was exceptionally large, seriously damaging our country's social management order". They went on to say that Chau owned a company that helps gamblers make cross-border money transfers.

It was only a matter of time before state intervention brought arrests after the CHinese authorities ruled that cross-border fund transfer for the purpose of gambling was a national security risk.

Macau authorities join in the crackdown

State officials from the once Portuguese run colony accused Chau and 10 others of operating a "live web betting platform" out of the Philippines that targeted mainland Chinese punters.

They also went on to say that their investigations showed that the Tigre de Cristal resort in Russia was also involved. It sits just across the border in northeast China and is controlled by Summit Ascent Holdings (listed in Hong Kong) which counts Suncity as its controlling shareholder.

Shares of all Macau gambling operations have tumbled

U.S. casino operators listed in Macau have dropped in the few days since news began to surface. MGM China down 15%, Wynn Macau down 11% and Sands China is down 9%. Suncity Group traded in Hong Kong was down on Tuesday's tradnig to 0.12 HKD from a 52 week high of 0.86 HKD, losing 86% of its value in one year.