Alvin Chau, the former head of Macau’s junket operator Suncity, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison by a Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) court today for running an illegal gambling empire. Chau was facing almost 300 charges including of illicit gaming, criminal association, embezzlement, and money laundering.
The 48-year-old was found guilty on most of the charges but was acquitted on the money laundering charge. The trial started in September last year and Alvin was among 20 defendants. Eight of the defendants were charged for criminal association and the majority of the defendants are facing different prison sentences.
He was found not guilty on 136 charges regarding illicit exploitation of gaming in authorized zones as the court found that the statute of limitations had already passed. Judge Lou Ieng Ha found Alvin guilty and said in her ruling, as quoted by The Times of India, that Suncity under the latter’s leadership ‘conducted illegal gambling for unlawful gains for a long time’.
Alvin founded Suncity Group and was credited for bringing high rollers to play at casinos in Macau, the only place in China where casinos operate legally. He dominated the gambling industry for years and at his peak, Macau’s casino industry was bigger than Las Vegas’. However, his downfall started with Chinese President XI Jinping’s anti-corruption drive. He was arrested in December 2021 for alleged involvement in cross-border money laundering and which forced him to resign from the CEO and chairman positions at the Suncity Group.
The Suncity Group used to operate Gaming Rooms, and required their agents to find high rollers to play at their casinos. However, the official charged Alvin for doing the same in mainland China, where the casinos are not legal. He was accused of using his agent network to help citizens engage in offshore and cross-border gambling.