Police in the largest gambling hub in the world, Macau, announced they had arrested 2 individuals under the allegations of participation in illegal gambling and money laundering. The arrests have come as part of the local authorities’ efforts to impose stricter measures on illicit capital flows that are being siphoned out from mainland China.
In a statement, released by the police on their official account on WeChat, it was revealed that one of the individuals involved in the scheme had been linked to the operation of an illegal gambling syndicate, while the other helped him. The police authorities have not named either one of the two men.
However, the operator of one of the Macau casino resorts, Macau Legend Development, issued a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on January 30th, revealing that Chan Weng Lin, the company’s chief executive officer, had been taken into custody and detained by local police. The company also shared that the incident is associated with Mr. Chan’s personal affairs and should not be associated with the group in any way. It said that Macau Legen Development’s board did not expect to see the company’s daily operation affected by the arrest.
Mr. Chan also chairs the second-largest junket operator in Macau, Tak Chun Group. As Reuters reported, neither the group immediately responded to the media’s request for comment nor its Chairman himself was able to reach separately.
Mainland China Authorities’ Crackdown and Covid-19 Restrictions Hit Macau Junket Operators Hard
According to analysts, the recent arrests have marked a new era of authorities’ non-existent tolerance of the promotion of gambling on the territory of China. Currently, all forms of gambling are banned in the country. On the other hand, junket operators, also known as junkets, have been attracting affluent Chinese players to Macau casinos. These syndicates have been known for traditionally offering easy credit to such high-rollers and collecting on their debts through illegal financing channels.
The most recent arrests came only a couple of months after Macau police authorities arrested Alvin Chau, the head of another junket company, Suncity. The special administrative region’s police said that the current arrests were linked to the previous ones that took place in November 2021, as the two groups were found to have been working together. The police authorities said they were engaged in criminal and illicit activities.
According to official reports, the VIP gambling industry accounted for over two-thirds of the overall gambling revenue of the world’s largest gambling hub until a few years ago. In comparison, it is currently almost non-existent.
Suncity and Tak Chun had been the largest junket operators in Macau. For years, the two companies had been employing thousands of people but data provided by the gambling regulatory body of Macau shows that the number of licensed junket operators has declined almost by half (46%) over the past 12 months.
The high-roller gambling industry in Macau had fallen to 25% of the overall gambling revenue generated in the last quarter of the previous year. As it was confirmed by official data, the business of junket operators shrunk not only because of the crackdown imposed on capital outflows by the Government of mainland China but also because of the restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.