Casino tycoon in Macau China’s administrative region, Alvin Zhao, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being found guilty of running an “illegal gambling empire.”
Judge Lou Ling Ha, a 48-year-old casino mogul, was found guilty of fraud, running a crime ring and running illegal gambling.
The ruling awarded US$834 million in financial compensation to the Macau government, in addition to US$275 million in compensation to five of the six casino operating companies.
In turn, Zhao was acquitted of money laundering charges.
In the field of gambling, the parties play an intermediary role, facilitating the arrival of players at Macau casinos, providing them with excursion services and providing them with loans, and Zhao is known as “the king” in this regard.
Zhao Hu is the founder of “Suncity Group”, the largest company in this field, which organizes tourist trips to Macau and successfully attracts players from mainland China.
Macau, a former Portuguese colony, is the only region in the country where casinos are licensed. In 20 years, his gross domestic product (GDP) has soared so much that his weekly earnings now exceed those of Las Vegas.
Zhao’s conviction stems from an anti-corruption campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping years ago. China is making efforts to combat money laundering through games.
Chow’s trial began in September in an 824 billion Hong Kong dollar (about US$105 billion) illegal betting case.
Over eight years, these unauthorized bets are believed to have lost more than one billion Hong Kong dollars (about $127 million) in tax revenue from the former Portuguese colony.
In total, the prosecution brought against Zhao, who was tried in the case along with 20 other defendants, 289 charges of corruption, money laundering and illegal sweepstakes.
Zhao is also accused of helping Chinese agents place bets by proxy in Southeast Asian casinos.
In December, Zhao denied any involvement in any illegal activity in court, stressing that he did not know why Suncity was classified as a criminal group.
Hong Kong authorities arrested Zhao in November 2021, two days after Beijing issued a warrant for his arrest.
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