Macau Police Busts Illegal Gambling Scheme and Arrests 15 People
The Macau Daily Times reported that the arrested Macau residents of ages 29 to 66 years old were allegedly part of an illegal online gambling business operated on overseas servers.
At a press conference that took place on January 12, the Macau Judiciary Police announced that it had acted together with the Guangdong Province police and together the two police forces have detained a total of 42 people.
The scheme involved a ring of people operating an illegal online gambling platform with servers located overseas. The product offering included various online gambling games, including some that the criminal group developed themselves. Sports betting on soccer was also available.
According to the provided information, the gambling website has been active since 2017 and since then it has accepted wagers of around RMB 18.5 billion ($2.8 billion). The scheme has allegedly brought profits of about at least RMB 25 million ($3.7 million).
The cross-border investigation has been ongoing since 2021. According to the revelations, the criminal group was comprised of Macau, mainland, and Taiwan residents.
The Macau operations were at an office building in the NAPE district where the Macau Judiciary Police conducted several searches and arrested 15 Macau residents. 27 residents of various provinces on the mainland who were involved in the illegal gambling scheme have been arrested by the Chinese police authorities. Two of the detained people are believed to be the leaders of the operations and the masterminds behind the whole business.
The arrested suspects face charges of participating in organized crime, operating illegal gambling, money laundering, and more.
The Macau casino industry has been shaken up by scandals in the past year or so. Macau authorities have seriously cracked down on illegal activities in the sector and particularly on junket operations.
It all started when Suncity Group CEO and founder Alvin Chau was arrested in 2021. The huge scandal resulted in Chau resigning as CEO and a full-blown trial against him and 20 other defendants. The Suncity Group scandal even had reverberations in Australia with both Star Entertainment and Crown Resorts facing investigations in connection with their ties to Suncity Group.
Eventually Levo Chan, the former CEO of junket Tak Chun Group, also faced similar charges to Chau due to his alleged involvement with the criminal organization including Suncity Group.
As a result, the Macau SAR Government made legislative changes to crack down on junket operations in the country. Currently, licensed junket operators are allowed to sign an agreement with only one out of the six casino concessionaires that hold a license in Macau.