Alvin Chau Trial: Junket Kingpin Denies Online Gambling, Side-Betting Operations

Posted on: September 20, 2022, 01:34h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2022, 02:30h.

Former Suncity boss Alvin Chau has denied operating illegal online betting services that targeted gamblers in Macau and mainland China. In a Macau Court of First Instance on Tuesday, the fallen junket head also denied that his company had been involved in organizing so-called “under-the-table” side-betting for high rollers.

Alvin Chau, pictured for a 2018 feature in CEO Magazine before his fall from grace. The Suncity boss has denied all charges against him. (Image: CEO Magazine)

Chau, 48, is charged, along with 20 other defendants, with illegal gambling, criminal association, fraud, and money laundering. On Monday’s first day of his trial, he pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Until his arrest last November, Chau was the chairman and CEO of Suncity, the world’s biggest junket operator. The now-defunct junket company was responsible for an estimated 25% of Macau’s VIP market segment revenue, which in 2014 alone would have been US$11 billion.

‘Criminal Syndicate’

Prosecutors argue Chau and his fellow defendants operated a “criminal syndicate” that cheated the Macau government of around HKD8.26 billion (US$1.05 billion) in tax revenue from 2013 to 2021.

They did this, allegedly, by offering their casino high rollers under-the-table “multiplier bets.” This involved stakes on each official bet placed at a casino being multiplied surreptitiously by the junket group and settled later, tax-free.

I’m aware there have been activities of under-the-table betting … but I have not been involved in it,” Chau said, as reported by Macau Business.

He added that the side betting operation “may be” organized by fellow defendant Cheong Chi Kin, who he said was not employed by Suncity.

Of 40K messages seized by authorities from the servers of two alleged side-betting companies overseen by Cheong, Chau was involved in just 40. He claimed that this was proof he could not be involved in the operations.

Proxy Betting Admission

While Chau denies Suncity had a hand in online gambling, he did admit it had been involved in proxy betting, which is outlawed in Macau and the rest of China. This is where gamblers use a third party to bet live at a casino. Bets are often arranged through mobile apps, and the results are relayed or video-streamed in real-time.

Chau told the court that Suncity hadn’t operated proxy betting services in Macau since the practice was banned in 2016. Instead, he relocated operations to other markets, notably the Philippines, where it was legal, he pointed out.

In 2019, a report by Chinese state media accused Suncity of operating online and proxy gambling operations from the Philippines and Cambodia. Those operations were allegedly reaping billions of dollars by targeting Chinese citizens. The report claimed that these operations were causing “great harm” to the country’s social and economic order.

After that, Chau said he transferred the business to a man named Richard Yeung, although there was no official record of the transaction.

The case continues.