Macau resort executive suspected of involvement in arrests of illegal gamblers

Police in Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, said on Sunday they had arrested two men on allegations of illegal gambling and money laundering, as authorities step up a crackdown on illicit money outflows from from the mainland of China.

“One of the men involved was responsible for running an illegal gambling syndicate while the other offered assistance,” police said in a statement on their official WeChat account, without naming either man.

Macau Legend Development, a company that owns and operates a casino in Macau, said its chief executive Chan Weng Lin had been arrested and detained by police, in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Sunday.

“The above incident relates to Mr. Chan’s personal affairs and is not related to the group. The Board of Directors does not expect the above incident to have a material adverse impact on the day-to-day operations,” Macau Legend said.

Chan is also chairman of Tak Chun Group, Macau’s second-largest junket operator. Tak Chun did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chan could not be reached separately.

Analysts said the arrests heralded a new era of zero tolerance for gambling promotion in China, where all forms of gambling are illegal and authorities are seeking to cut off cash outflows.

Junket operators have traditionally offered easy credit to mainland Chinese high rollers who gamble in Beijing-run Macau casinos and collect debts using underground funding channels, executives say.

The arrests announced on Sunday come two months after authorities in Macau arrested Suncity junket leader Alvin Chau.

Now almost non-existent, the opaque VIP industry accounted for more than two-thirds of Macau’s gambling revenue until just a few years ago, according to official data.

Police said the arrests were linked to the Suncity case in November as the two groups worked together, engaging in “illicit and criminal activities”.

Suncity and Tak Chun were the two main junket companies in Macau, employing thousands of people, but data from Macau’s gaming regulator shows the number of licensed junkets has fallen by 46% in the past 12 months.

Macau’s VIP industry had fallen to a quarter of overall gaming revenue in the final quarter of 2021 as junket activity was curtailed by China’s crackdown on capital outflows and COVID-19 restrictions on travel, according to official data.

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