Former junket mogul Alvin Chau admitted that parallel betting was “commonplace” in VIP gambling rooms in Macao and “everybody [involved] knew about it” during his trial at the Court of First Instance yesterday.
During Monday’s trial of the high-profile case that has sent shivers through the city’s gaming industry, the prosecution accused Chau Cheok Wa, who formerly headed Suncity Group, of having run illegal parallel betting schemes. Chau denied the allegation, insisting that neither he nor Suncity, which was once one of Macao’s largest junket operations, had been involved in parallel betting schemes.
Chau, 48, is the first of the case’s 21 defendants.
Chau and six of his co-defendants have been remanded in custody since November last year. He and the other 20 defendants separately face all or some of the following charges: money laundering, illicit gambling activities, serious fraud, and involvement in a criminal organisation.
According to gaming industry sources, some of the now defunct junket operators ran untaxed parallel betting schemes that reduced both the government’s gaming tax receipts and the gross gaming revenues of some of Macao’s gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires.
During yesterday’s trial, lawyers for a number of Chau’s co-defendants questioned him about parallel betting activities in VIP gambling rooms in Macao.
Chau said that parallel betting was “commonplace” in VIP gambling rooms, even those directly run by gaming concessionaires or sub-concessionaires.
“Parallel betting activities were carried out almost every day,” he said.
Chau also said that parallel betting was already being carried out before Macao’s establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region in December 1999.
Chau also said that normally around 10 gamblers at a time would place parallel bets in VIP rooms, but normally they did not wager huge sums.
Chau said that parallel betting was normally carried out based on verbal agreements between gamblers and junkets. Chau said that when inspectors tried to enforce the law on parallel betting, the gamblers and junkets would claim that they were all friends. Consequently, Chau said that it was difficult for casino inspectors to accuse gamblers and junkets of having engaged in parallel betting.
Instead, Chau said that when casino inspectors believed that parallel betting activities were being carried out, they would normally go to the gaming table, question the crowd of gamblers as to whether they were engaging in parallel betting, and “disperse” the crowd, as a way of “maintaining order”.
Chau also said that “everybody [involved] had known about the existence of parallel betting schemes, but gamblers and junkets did not engage in such activities openly”.
Chau also insisted during yesterday’s trial that he had never illegally operated online betting in Macao.
Chau also said yesterday that after obtaining approval from the authorities in 2003, he operated telephone betting until 2014 when Macao’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau banned telephone betting. Chau said that Suncity “immediately” terminated telephone betting in Macao, and transferred its telephone betting operations to the Philippines.
Chau also insisted that Suncity had never carried out promotional activities in Macao for its telephone betting businesses in the Philippines.
The case’s second and third defendants, Si Tou Chi Hou and Ellute Cheung Yat Ping, both former senior executives of Suncity Group, are accused of having illegally operated telephone betting and online betting in Macao.
During yesterday’s trial, both Si Tou and Cheung denied the allegations against them, insisting that they had never been engaged in telephone betting and online betting, The Macau Post Daily reported.
The trial continues today.