The criminal case that led to the detention of gambling junket boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa is linked to proxy betting in the Philippines and involving gamblers based in mainland China. That is according to a note from Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office issued on Monday night, that confirmed a total of five people connected to the case – including Mr Chau (pictured in a file photo) – had been placed under pre-trial detention.
The note stated that the alleged “Macau-based criminal group” led by Mr Chau “established in the Philippines an illicit online betting platform with live broadcast, in order to attract… people living on the mainland in China as the main source of customers, betting online on high-denomination illicit games.”
The Public Prosecutions Office added that alleged “illicit funds” generated by the operation were then funnelled to bank accounts of Macau-based companies making use of underground banks”.
Mr Chau – boss of the Suncity Group junket brand – was detained on Saturday over a probe into alleged promotion of illicit gambling. In a press conference on the following day, Macau’s Judiciary Police had confirmed the case against Mr Chau involved the establishment of gambling platforms overseas, and running proxy gambling.
Proxy gambling typically involves a gambling customer not physically present in a bricks and mortar casino, giving bet-placement instructions via telephone or digital device, to a person or “proxy” that is actually present at a live-dealer table in a casino. Proxy gambling is not permitted in the Macau market, according to a long-standing instruction from the city’s gaming regulator.
In July 2019, there had been allegations in the mainland Chinese media of the Suncity Group brand’s involvement in “online” and “proxy” gambling by Chinese players at overseas locations. At the time, Mr Chau denied any wrongdoing. It is not clear whether Macau’s case is in any way linked to that 2019 incident.
Five in pre-trial detention
In its Monday note, Macau’s Public Prosecutions Office confirmed that a total of five people – including Mr Chau – had been placed in pre-trial detention in Macau, following a decision by a local judge.
The press release – that only identified Mr Chau by surname, following the office’s normal practice – said he was the group’s leader. The Public Prosecutions Office said a total of 11 people had been questioned linked to the case. The six defendants that were not put in pre-trial detention had to pay bail and are now barred from leaving Macau and must present themselves regularly to the police.
The Public Prosecutions Office said the case involved four types of crime: being a member of a criminal group (which involves a penalty of up to 10 years in prison); being a leader of a criminal group (up 12 years in prison); money laundering (up to 8 years in prison); and illegal running of gambling operations (up to 3 years in prison).
The Public Prosecutions Office said that the alleged criminal activities undertaken by the criminal group led by Mr Chau had “had enormous impact on the lawful operations of Macau’s gaming sector and the stability of Macau’s financial order.”
The note did not clarify whether the criminal case had any link with the junket brand Suncity Group.
In a separate development, Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, told reporters on Monday that the city’s authorities had “zero tolerance” for criminal cases similar to those allegedly involving Mr Chau. He added that local security forces would continue to closely follow criminal trends in the city’s gaming industry, including via surprise inspections of gaming venues.
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