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HomeIntelligenceDeep DiveSuncity's online gambling operation wagers exceeded $42.2 billion: CCTV

Suncity’s online gambling operation wagers exceeded $42.2 billion: CCTV

The cross-border gambling syndicate operated by Suncity Group founder Alvin Chau received over RMB 300 billion ($42.2 billion) in bets from Chinese gamblers from 2015 to 2019, as reported on Monday by China’s State-owned TV – CCTV.

Alvin Chau, Suncity, Junket
Alvin Chau, Suncity founder

The report from CCTV has unveiled details of the cross-border gambling operations, including the scale of the online gambling business, affiliates’ requirements, and how the online gambling group received and settled gambling funds.

CCTV noted that Alvin Chau started an online gambling business in the Philippines targeting Chinese nationals in 2015. Online gambling is neither legal in mainland China nor Macau.

Former Macau junket boss Alvin Chau was arrested in 2021 by Macau’s Judiciary Police; however, before the detention a court in mainland China’s Zhejiang province’s Wenzhou was the first entity to issue the order for the arrest of Chau.

The Wenzhou Intermediate Court held a three-day trial in August 2022 and disclosed three cases involving Alvin Chau and Zhang Ningning, core members of a cross-border gambling syndicate. The court noted that ‘the trial of this case provided substantial evidence for the arrest and trial of Chau and others in Macau.’

‘Suncity’s case has directly led to Criminal Law Amendment changes, as Chinese authorities have criminalized all types of soliciting behavior to participate in cross-border gambling.’

The judge of the first court, Wang Haoze, pointed out that Suncity Group has a comprehensive structure, including the departments of finance, accounting, IT, customer service, and others, while Zhang Ningning was appointed as the head of the assets management company in mainland China. Zhang Ningning’s job title was the director of Asset Management.

The trial found that Alvin Chau, a shareholder and chairman of Suncity Group, started to operate VIP rooms in Macau in 2007 and set up a number of online gambling platforms in the Philippines and other countries for online gambling activities since 2015.

‘In order to maximize profits, Chau lured others to act as agents using commissions and dividends as bait. Through these agents, he organized and attracted Chinese nationals to participate in gambling in Suncity-operated gambling rooms or engage in cross-border online gambling.’

Judge Wang also noted that agents needed to buy shares worth a minimum of HK$5 million ($640,000). The minimum rolling chip volume per agent is HK$50 million ($6.4 million) per month. The operation scheme attracted some 283 Chinese agents.

The court has confirmed that, according to the corresponding electronic data seized in China from 2015 to 2019, domestic gamblers won more than RMB8.7 billion ($1.2 billion) of gambling funds in China, compared to the RMB300 billion bet volume.

‘The syndicate established a company in mainland China to provide agents and gamblers with assets in exchange for gambling credit, chips, and other services and to recover gambling debts. To evade supervision and crackdown, illegal channels such as shadow banks are also used to receive and settle gambling funds.’

In addition, ‘the syndicate also established or provided technical support or services such as gambler management, vehicle transportation, publicity, and promotion through Chinese companies, making the entire criminal activity more hidden.’

The cross-border gambling syndicate also violated state regulations, fabricated trading agreements, and repeatedly made cross-border payments of funds, totaling more than RMB1.2 billion ($163 million) and making illegal profits of more than RMB17 million ($2.4 million), seriously disrupting the order of China’s financial market, it indicates.

Alvin Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the group’s illegal activities early last year by the Macau courts.

Viviana Chan
Viviana Chan
Viviana Chan is an editor, interpreter, and journalist. With over a decade of experience, she writes in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Viviana started her career in Macau-based newspapers, where she became passionate about the region's social, financial, and cultural development. Her writing focuses on the economy, emerging industries, gaming development, political affairs, and cross cultural-exchange in the business and cultural domains. She is avid for news and eager to discover and cover stories that generate public relevance.