A Tuesday Macau court session heard allegations of ‘proxy bets’ being facilitated overseas on behalf of customers of former casino junket brand Tak Chun Group, with bet settlement done via Macau, the latter an unauthorised activity under Macau regulation.
Vong Wai Chong, an investigator with Macau’s Judiciary Police, used a screen-based presentation to explain to the Court of First Instance how such business was allegedly transacted.
Former Tak Chun boss Levo Chan Weng Lin, and eight other defendants, including several former executives of the junket firm, are on trial, charged with crimes including being a member of an illegal criminal organisation, illicit gambling operations, defrauding the Macau Special Administrative Region government and the city’s six casino concessionaires, and money laundering.
Prosecution witness Mr Vong said evidence gathered – including information shared by mainland China police and Tak Chun’s computer and paper records; as well as WeChat communication and voice messages – pointed to Mr Chan not only having knowledge of, but also leading, proxy betting activities in a five-year period spanning June 2015 to July 2020.
Mr Vong told the court that a training manual issued by Tak Chun’s market development department, dated 2018, explained to staff how to deal with proxy betting requests from clients.
It included how to guide clients to download a mobile phone application, or log in via designated websites. Mr Vong said they were a way of accessing online, live-play baccarat games said to have been hosted in “Tak Chun venues” at three casino resorts in Manila, in the Philippines.
The places mentioned in the Macau court hearing were Solaire Resort and Casino; City of Dreams Manila; and Okada Manila. The Philippines is a jurisdiction where proxy betting and online gambling via bricks and mortar casinos is authorised for a number of resort properties.
A Tak Chun venue at an unidentified casino in Danang, in Vietnam, was also mentioned in Tuesday’s court session as hosting proxy betting activities.
Mr Vong said that from police inquiries, and according to the 2018 training manual, Tak Chun’s “central cage” department – which was based in Macau – was tasked with: confirming that particular customers wished to take part in proxy betting; how much they wished to wager; the level of credit or “marker” to be issued to them; whether players wanted to “top up” their account and bet more; and settlement of wagers.
The investigator said that Tak Chun meeting minutes from 2019 mentioned advantages and disadvantages of running proxy betting activities. Among disadvantages mentioned by executives in the minutes, was that it was “illegal and hard to promote,” stated Mr Vong.
He told the court, that in the context of Macau rules: “This shows that Tak Chun knew it [proxy betting] was illegal but they had still run such activity for a long time.”
Leong Hon Man, a lawyer for Mr Chan; and Ai Linzhi, a lawyer for another defendant, Cherie Wong Pui King, queried during the afternoon sitting of the court, whether whoever drafted that particular minute, was senior enough to understand the legalities regarding proxy betting. Judge Lam Peng Fai, leading a three-judge panel for the case, said the court would weigh that matter.
According to the indictment materials for the trial, “In order to obtain more illicit gains, suspect [Levo] Chan Weng Lin and other suspects used the names of ‘Tak Chun Group Company Ltd’ and ‘Tak Chun VIP Club’ as guise to establish a long-time, organised and stable group that conducted illicit gambling activities and obtain profit from such.”
On Monday the court heard prosecution claims that telephone wiretaps proved Mr Chan knew about and authorised another illicit activity – done via Macau – regarding so-called ‘multiplier’ bets.
The case continues.
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