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Macau Gambling Kingpin, Alvin Chau, Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

The 48-year-old was found guilty in a case involving unlawful bets totalling HK$823.7 billion ($105 billion; £85.7 billion). Chau, a well-known and colourful player in the neighbourhood gaming business, has refuted the accusations.

Alvin Chau Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison in Macau
Alvin Chau Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison in Macau

Alvin Chau, the leader of the illicit gambling industry in Macau, was found guilty on more than 100 counts and given an 18-year prison term.

The 48-year-old was found guilty in a case involving unlawful bets totalling HK$823.7 billion ($105 billion; £85.7 billion). Chau, a well-known and colourful player in the neighbourhood gaming business, has refuted the accusations.

Only one Chinese city—Macau, a former Portuguese colony—allows gaming. Suncity Group's chairman and founder was Chau. It was the largest provider of organised tours to casinos for wealthy gamblers in Macau. It organised for high rollers from the Chinese mainland to visit Macau and gamble there while also providing loans to them. Additionally, it ran VIP rooms around the casinos in Macau and gathered debts for the casinos. Days after being arrested, the businessman named "Junket King" resigned in December 2021. Chau was charged with founding and running a criminal organisation that enabled unreported wagers. According to them, the government missed out on more than HK$8.26 billion in tax revenue as a result. The court upheld most of the charges, but Chau was cleared of the money laundering charge. Twenty additional defendants are involved in the prominent case.

Coronavirus limitations and a crackdown by the Chinese government on money leaving the mainland have significantly negative impacts on the gambling sector.

The coronavirus bans and the Chinese government's crackdown on money leaving the country have severely hurt the gaming sector. The coronavirus bans and the Chinese government's crackdown on money leaving the country have severely damaged the gaming sector. In conjunction with Chau's case, a court in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou imprisoned over 30 individuals in September for international gambling.

After Chau's arrest, Suncity shut all of its VIP rooms. But even before that, Macau's junket population had been steadily declining. According to government statistics, only 36 junket operators are left, down from 100 in 2019. Chau is a well-known figure in the Chinese-speaking world, and tabloids love him because they are obsessed with his relationships. He has slicked-back hair and a tanned complexion. The local media gave him the term "Washing Rice Wa" about a sitcom character, which may also be understood as a euphemism for money laundering.

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