The Macau-based gambling operator Suncity Group’s founder, Alvin Chau, was found to be running an illegal gambling organization that received over $42 billion in bets from Chinese gamblers from 2015 to 2019, according to Asian Gaming Brief. The syndicate orchestrated cross-border gambling operations through a large network of agents, collecting profits totaling around $2.4 million. Despite Macau’s prohibition on online gambling and Mainland China’s ban on all forms of gambling, the organization managed to carry out its illegal operations.
Chinese National Television CCTV has revealed the details of the syndicate’s operations, including the amounts handled and the intermediaries used to funnel funds to the illegal organization. The illegal online gambling business was launched by Alvin Chau in the Philippines in 2015, with the aim of attracting Chinese customers. The operation involved 283 syndicate agents across the country, allowing for a $42.2 billion handle over five years of illicit activity.
Alvin Chau was arrested in 2021 by Macau Judiciary Police following an arrest order issued by a court in Mainland China’s Zhejiang province’s Wenzhou. A trial held in August 2022 designated Chau and Zhang Ningning as the leaders of the cross-border gambling syndicate. It was revealed that the syndicate used Suncity’s IT and financial infrastructure, with Ningning overseeing the related asset management company in Mainland China.
The operation involved agents buying a minimum of $640,000 in shares and generating a minimum monthly handle of $6.4 million, resulting in a total handle of $42.2 billion from 2015 to 2019. The group used illegal shadow banks to settle gambling funds and evade authorities. The syndicate violated state regulations, making cross-border payments totaling around $163 million and earning illegal profits of more than $2.4 million.
Alvin Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison in January 2023 as a result of the criminal activity. The case led to regulatory changes, with Chinese authorities criminalizing all types of solicitation to participate in cross-border gambling. The overall impact of the case has resulted in widespread criminal law amendments.