Junket King Alvin Chau to Serve 18 Years in Prison


Alvin Chau is the former chair of Suncity Group and is known globally as the “Junket King.” The former promoter was linked with many high-stakes gamblers, including those connected to criminal activity. On Friday, news broke that Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison upon being found guilty of a myriad of charges, including illegal gambling, fraud, and criminal association.

Chau Found Guilty of 162 of 286 Charges

On Friday, multiple sources broke the news that Alvin Chau was found guilty of 162 charges connected to his time as SunCity Group CEO. The Macau Court of First Instance handed down the sentence after a lengthy trial that took four months. Approximately 21 defendants were on trial with Chau. Of those defendants, 13 were also found guilty of various crimes.

The Macau gambling boss Alvin Chau has been sentenced to 18 years in jail after being convicted of operating illegal gaming activities and running a criminal organisation https://t.co/JiY28LhH62

— The Times and The Sunday Times (@thetimes) January 18, 2023

Originally, Chau was facing 286 charges. Initially arrested in December 2021, he pled not guilty to the charges back in September. SunCity Group was founded in 2007 and quickly became one of the most well-known gambling junkets in the world.

The company was accused of various criminal activities, including money laundering. High profile players would use the company to secure gambling services in Macau and abroad. Many of these activities occurred in Australian casinos. Crown Resorts and Star City Entertainment were entangled with these junkets and have been paying a heavy price ever since.

Convictions Include Everything Except Money Laundering

Of the 286 charges being levied against Alvin Chau, he was only convicted of 162. The convictions include criminal association, fraud, and illegal gambling. However, more severe charges of money laundering were levied against the company. Ultimately, Chau was found not guilty of money laundering.

Junket operations are famous for helping gamblers acquire services, with some clients having ties to organized crime. Gambling is illegal in mainland China, so many people go to Macau or other countries to gamble. Junket organizations help facilitate this, with many players paying for services in mainland China.

However, many junkets also offer illegal gambling services through illegal gambling services and apps. Online casinos are banned in China. Unlike many countries that only punish operators, China also punishes players. The act of playing online pokies or blackjack could land someone in jail.

Chau will likely appeal this decision. According to Pedro Leal, one of Chau’s lawyers, “The two areas where I think there was a lack of evidence is on the fraud and illegal gambling. VIP gambling will never be the same.”

Levo Chan Weng Lin Trial Ongoing

The former CEO of Macau Legend Development Ltd is also on trial for various charges. Levo Chan Weng Lin’s criminal trial began in early December and is ongoing. He is facing multiple money laundering charges, accepting under-the-table bets, and more. The company also faces approximately US $17 million in damages from various casinos and casino operators.

Taking down Macau junkets in organized crime Round 2:

On Day One, Levo Chan was 🤐. Several of the other defendants confessed.

After Day Two, I wonder if going second caused more witnesses and defendants to tell the truth. This is pretty damning.https://t.co/4JkRRQQxsZ pic.twitter.com/6fWfV58Fli

— Zfan (@Zfan51129) December 6, 2022

As such, the two largest junkets are now facing massive prison time. According to Ben Lee, managing partner for IGamiX Management and Consulting, “The prosecution of Macau’s largest two junkets, who prior to Covid were estimated to command 70 per cent of the VIP market and 25 percent of overall gross gaming revenue, sends a chilling reminder to the gaming industry that no one is above reproach.”

“The trial means the end of the high volume and high-profile Macau junkets and VIP rooms. Macau will, out of necessity, need to find and grow the grind mass market, a Herculean task.”

Partnerships with junkets have resulted in the largest shakeup of gambling in Australia’s history. Massive gambling regulation changes have occurred due to the negative impact of junkets. The prosecution of these junkets will go a long way toward closing the door on a dark chapter in the history of gambling in Australia.

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Author: Walter Cook