Macau Casinos Choose Not to Appeal Ruling on Suncity Group
Macau’s five major gaming companies have decided not to appeal a court ruling that determined they have no legal right to pursue financial damages from Suncity Group and its founder, Alvin Chau. Chau, the former head of Macau’s VIP junket industry, was arrested in November 2021 and found guilty of 162 charges, including fraud, illegal gambling, and criminal association. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in January 2023.
The court found that Chau ran illegal side gambling operations through Suncity, costing the SAR government at least HK $8.2 billion (US $1.1 billion) in tax revenue between 2013 and 2021. Macau prosecutors successfully argued that before China began cracking down on junket groups, the VIP trip organizers facilitated first-class travel for mainland China’s elite to Macau, the world’s richest gambling hub.
The VIP groups were instrumental in Macau’s transformation into the gambling center it is today. However, the court found Suncity guilty of orchestrating illegal side gambling operations in its private high-roller rooms inside its casino partners, resulting in the loss of significant tax revenue for the government.
During the peak of Macau’s gaming industry, all six casino operators worked with Suncity, and sought to recoup their losses in the scandal. Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, Sands China, and SJM Resorts sought financial damages from Suncity, with Wynn believing it resulted in gaming losses of about $96 million, Galaxy seeking $70 million, MGM $42.5 million, Sands $36.8 million, and SJM $22.2 million. Melco Resorts, the sixth casino concession holder, did not file a lawsuit seeking financial damages from Suncity.
However, last month, the Court of Second Instance in Macau ruled that the casinos had no legal right to seek financial recuperation. The five casino plaintiffs have decided not to appeal the ruling to the Court of Final Appeal, according to TDM, Macau’s public broadcasting service.
The Suncity and Chau prosecutions have resulted in most junket groups fleeing Macau, and the Macau SAR Government, in compliance with Beijing, is now limiting the number of junket groups to 50 a year. However, as reported by Casino.org, there are currently less than 40 registered junket groups continuing to do business in the city.