Asia’s leading casino junket operator Suncity Group has denied operating illegal online gambling in China, while simultaneously vowing to stop doing anything China views as illegal.
On Saturday, Suncity Group boss Alvin Chau held a brief press conference in Macau at which he read a statement in response to recent Chinese state-run media reports accusing Suncity of offering online gambling to mainland gamblers in violation of local law.
Chau stated that Suncity’s Macau-licensed Sun City Gaming Promotion Co Ltd “and other related companies have not engaged in any business that violates the laws of the People’s Republic of China and the Macau [special administrative region].”
Chau insisted that Suncity “has not operated the so-called online gaming platform, which is promoting gaming and conducting monetary settlement in mainland China without physical gambling chips.” Chau also claimed that Suncity’s “profit has not exceeded the revenue of China Lottery,” although the media report actually claimed that Suncity’s betting turnover, not profit, exceeded the lottery sales.
Chau added that Suncity’s junket operations and its “other related companies around the world” were licensed to carry on their respective operations. However, Chau said that even if certain activities were legally okay in certain jurisdictions, Suncity “will not adopt them if the laws of Macau do not allow it and will strictly adhere to the law of Macau.”
Despite challenging the claims made in the media reports, Chau said “no legal actions against any media will be taken for this incident.” Chau also apologized “for all the inconvenience caused to the Macau government and the possible negative impact on Macau gaming concessionaires. We hope the concerns generated in both mainland China and the Macau SAR will be eased.”
Chau, who took no questions following his prepared remarks, strayed from his talking points briefly to say he wasn’t under investigation by Chinese authorities and that he wasn’t on anyone’s “wanted” list. Chau added that “my career is in Macau, my home is in Macau, I’m rooted in Macau, and my heart is always with motherland China.”
The fallout from the Chinese media reports had been swift, as Macau’s gambling regulator summoned representatives from local junket operators and all six casino concessionaires to remind them of what was and wasn’t legal under their operating licenses.
It remains to be seen whether Chau’s statement will be enough to temper the controversy. On Friday, state-run media outlet Xinhua quoted China’s Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi warning that the police would renew their efforts to “bust a series of major criminal cases” involving illegal online gambling and would “wipe out” domestic network operators and companies that provide tech support for gambling sites.
Zhao also vowed a renewed effort to stamp out ‘underground banks’ that facilitate online gambling payments. The Chinese media report on Suncity accused the company of using underground banking to fund its alleged online gambling activities in China, causing “great harm to China’s social order and financial authority.”