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Macao 'Junket' Organizer Convicted of Illegal Gambling

FILE - Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau attends an event in Macao on Nov. 29, 2020. He will face 18 years in jail after being convicted of a series of charges, including operating illegal gaming activities, running a criminal organization and fraud on Jan. 18, 2023.

Alvin Chau, who organized the biggest gambling facilitators in Macao, has been convicted on charges of illegal gambling and other charges.

The former head of Suncity Group was sentenced to 18 years in prison at a Wednesday hearing. The presiding judge also found Chau guilty of fraud and running a criminal cross-border gambling syndicate, but acquitted him of money laundering.

Macao, a special administrative region of China, is the only place in the country where casinos are legal. Gambling facilitators, known as junkets, arrange to bring wealthy Chinese citizens from the mainland to the former Portuguese colony, extending them credit and collecting on their debt on behalf of casino operators.

Prosecutors ordered Chau’s arrest in 2021 and charged him and several others with running an illicit gambling syndicate that allegedly led to the loss of about $1 billion in tax revenue for Macao over an eight-year period beginning in 2013. The judge ordered Chau and some co-defendants to pay more than $830 million to the Macao government, as well as several million dollars to five casino operators as compensation.

Macao’s junket sector collapsed in the wake of Chau’s arrest, with Suncity closing its VIP (Very Important Person) rooms. Another high-profile junket operator, Levo Chan, is also facing prosecution for running an illegal gambling operation.