Former Macau gambling kingpin Alvin Chau’s appeal fails, upholding 18-year sentence and triple damages. Discover his dramatic downfall.
In a recent development, Alvin Chau, the once-prominent figure in Macau’s gambling scene, has had his appeal for a reduced sentence denied by the Court of Second Instance in the enclave. While the court did quash his sentence for fraud, it upheld his 18-year imprisonment for charges related to illegal gambling and criminal association. The ruling also enforces a significant threefold increase in the compensation that Chau and his company, Suncity, must pay to the Macau government.
Before his arrest in late 2021, Alvin Chau stood as one of the wealthiest and most influential individuals in Macau. His enterprise, Suncity, reigned as the largest junket operator in the market, contributing to an estimated 25% of VIP revenue in the world’s premier gambling hub. In January, Chau, along with 20 other Suncity associates, was convicted on 162 counts of fraud, illegal gambling, and criminal association.
The majority of these convictions were related to Suncity’s involvement in providing VIP clients with illicit “under-the-table” bets spanning from 2013 to 2021. These bets involved multiplying stakes on official wagers placed by VIP clients at Macau casinos, ultimately settled without tax implications.
The Fall of a Junket Magnate:
Chau and Suncity were found to have deprived the Macau government of HK$8.2 billion (US$1.1 billion) in tax revenue, as per the prosecution’s claims. Additionally, Suncity faced accusations of running online gambling platforms in the Philippines and Cambodia, targeting Macau and mainland China players in violation of the law.
In February, Chau’s legal team initiated an appeal against his sentence. Simultaneously, Macau’s Office of the Prosecutor General requested an extension of his prison term by 3.5 years, bringing the total to 21.5 years.
Last week, the Court of Second Instance cleared Chau and six other individuals of fraud charges against the Macau government. However, they were still held guilty of criminal association, particularly involving the illicit exploitation of gambling within authorized locations (for under-the-table betting) and outside authorized areas (related to online gambling), as reported by Macau Business.
The court also calculated that this “criminal enterprise” (referring to Suncity) had generated US$2.25 billion from under-the-table betting and nearly US$1 billion from illegal online wagering. Consequently, Chau and his co-defendants are now obligated to pay a substantial sum of US$3.2 billion to the Macau government.
While Alvin Chau did not succeed in securing a reduced prison term, four of his co-defendants saw their sentences reduced from 15 years to 12.5. These individuals are Celestino Ali, Cheong Chi Kin, Chau Chun Hee, and Philip Wong Pak Ling.
Chau’s arrest and conviction, alongside that of Levo Chan, the head of Tak Chun, on similar charges, prompted Macau to introduce legislative reforms aimed at regulating and curtailing the activities of junket operators.
In June, the Macau Professional Association of Gaming Promoters reported that only 14 licensed junkets were operating in the gaming hub, a notable decline from the over 40 such entities during Macau’s peak in 2014.