11 Arrested in Macau Raid
Shares in Macau casinos have slumped as authorities raid illegal gambling and ‘junket’ rings
Shares in Macau casino operators have plummeted after 11 people were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and illegal cross-border gambling.
Casino gambling is illegal on the Chinese mainland but legal in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub.
According to a Chinese state media outlet, the leader of a cross-border gambling syndicate, Alvin Chau, a well-known figure in the gambling industry, has been under investigation for some time.
It is unclear whether Mr Chau was among those arrested. Still, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, quoted police as identifying a Macau businessman with the surname Chau.
Mr Chau founded Suncity, the most prominent “junket operator” in Macau and specialises in arranging luxury casino excursions in Southeast Asian countries for high-rolling gamblers. He is also the Chairman of Suncity Group Holdings.
Macau shares plummet
Suncity Group’s shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange was halted on Monday due to a restraining order. Several of the city’s largest operators were also impacted, with MGM China down 10%, Wynn Macau down 8%, and Sands China down more than 6%.
According to the Global Times, Mr Chau is the leader of a cross-border gambling criminal syndicate with over 12,000 gaming agents and 80,000 members in China. Mr Chau is also a controlling shareholder in Sun Entertainment Group, a film production and cremation services company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In a stock exchange filing on Sunday, the company said that its board of directors had taken note of news coverage about the investigations in Wenzhou and Macau.
“The Board of Directors believes that the incident will have no material impact on the financial position, business, or operation of the Group,”
– according to the statement.
Sun Entertainment Group’s stock was down nearly 30% on Monday afternoon.
Nine point consultation to improve operations
Recent months have seen a significant increase in the amount of attention paid to Macau’s casinos, as authorities seek to monitor their operations more closely.
When the city’s economy and finance secretary Lei Wai Nong announced a 45-day consultation period on the gambling operators in September, he pointed out that the industry had been under-regulated. Mr Lei detailed nine areas for consultation during a news briefing, including improved industry regulation and the appointment of government officials to oversee day-to-day casino operations.