US casino workers union calls for federal probe into Macau's junket SunCity's link with US casinos

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US casino workers union calls for federal probe into Macau's junket SunCity's link with US casinos
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The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, which represents over 2,000 members working in Las Vegas casinos, on Tuesday called for a coordinated U.S. federal investigation into Macau's largest gambling junket operator SunCity Group and its historical relationships with U.S. gaming companies.

In separate letters to the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Treasury Department, the White House National Security Council and the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Local 501 pointed out "alarming public reports" on SunCity Group and its owner Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, who was recently arrested by Chinese authorities for alleged money laundering.

Local 501 explained it is engaging with U.S. federal authorities "because state-run gambling regulators have proven either unwilling or incapable of regulating VIP-junket activity and its interplay with U.S. casino companies operating abroad."

Alvin Chau’s SunCity Group has operated as a junket operator for Macau casinos and throughout East Asia, recruiting and issuing credit to high rollers, many from mainland China, to gamble in exclusive casino VIP rooms. The VIP-junket industry is now facing a crackdown by China's government following reports of organised crime influence and money laundering.

In November 2021, authorities in Macau, China, detained Chau for running “a cross-boundary gambling syndicate, organising illegally Chinese residents to travel to VIP junkets overseen by Chau and located outside the mainland, in order to take part in cross-boundary gambling.”

Prior, in February 2021, regulators in New South Wales, Australia, cited “information relating to US Government reports that Alvin Chau had links to organised crime.” The government flagged an incident where local casino officials discovered $5.6 million in cash stored in a SunCity high-roller room – an event that “sent money-laundering alarms ringing” at the casino. “It is clear that money laundering did occur within that room,” Australian regulators concluded during public hearings.

In a release Tuesday, Local 501 argued that concerns over SunCity operations have geopolitical concern for U.S. authorities. "These findings should alarm U.S. officials. Multiple U.S.-based casino licensees with overseas operations have for years collaborated extensively with Chau’s SunCity Group to bring high roller gamblers to their properties and accommodate exclusive “SunCity”-branded VIP rooms inside their casinos."

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