Suncity Group, a prominent casino junket, was found to be responsible for facilitating approximately RMB300 billion ($42 billion) in wagers through online gambling activities, according to a report from China Central Television (CCTV). The report, released on Monday, revealed that the junket operator profited approximately RMB8.7 billion ($1.22 billion) from these activities.
It is important to note that online gambling activities are illegal in mainland China. Reports indicated that Suncity targeted mainland Chinese gamblers, offering them online gambling opportunities. As a result of these illegal activities, the former CEO of Suncity, Alvin Chau, and the director of asset management, Zhang Ningning, were arrested and sentenced. In addition, over 30 individuals involved in Suncity’s operations also faced trial.
The report outlined that Suncity had established a large-scale cross-border gambling syndicate. Allegedly, the company was behind various online gambling platforms operating in the Philippines, with nearly 300 Chinese nationals participating in the operation between 2015 and 2019.
The crackdown on junkets, particularly Suncity, led to a significant disruption in the once-profitable sector. In 2013, there were 235 junkets operating in the region, but due to the downfall of Suncity, this number decreased to only 36 by last year. Recent data reflects a further decline, with the number of operating junkets plummeting to 18.
Former Suncity executives faced severe consequences for their involvement in these illegal activities. Alvin Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison, the harshest penalty among those involved. He was convicted of criminal association, proxy betting, under-the-table betting, and illegal gambling. Although Chau attempted to appeal his sentence, the Court of Second Instance in Macau upheld his prison sentence in October.
Zhang Ningning was also sentenced to seven years in prison and received a fine for her involvement. As a result of the crackdown and the implementation of strict new measures in Macau, the operations of junkets with physical venues shifted away from such partnerships.
Overall, Suncity Group’s involvement in facilitating illegal online gambling activities has resulted in significant legal consequences for the individuals involved and has had a profound impact on the junket sector in the region.