In Macau and the trial of the 21 individuals being charged with various illegal gaming, fraud, money laundering and criminal association infractions has reportedly again heard testimony relating to the alleged prevalence of ‘side betting’ activities within the enclave’s many casinos.
According to a Thursday report from GGRAsia, defendant Cheong Chi Kin admitted to being connected to ‘side betting’ via VIP lounges within multiple Macau casinos so as to allow gamblers to surreptitiously lodge wagers that were much larger than represented by the chips on an actual gaming table. The source detailed that the figure moreover acknowledged at the Court of First Instance that these rooms had been run by a selection of local junket enterprises including Suncity Group.
Cheong was one of 20 individuals arrested late last year alongside former Suncity Group boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa on charges that they had been engaged in a number of illegal activities including money laundering and the promotion of illicit gambling services. The figure was purportedly responding to earlier testimony from fellow defendant Ali Celestino (pictured) that he was among a group of people that had helped to develop a computerized system to accurately record ‘side betting’ activities.
The defendant purportedly described himself as the owner of a local food and beverage business in advance of telling prosecutor Lai U Hou that he had additionally served as a ‘a junket agent’ for Suncity Group. Cheong purportedly went on to define Chau as ‘a friend’ before conceding that he had links with ‘side betting’ enterprises employing ‘a few dozen people’ but with ‘no relationship’ to Suncity Group.
However, Cheong later revealed that he had received administrative support from employees of Suncity Group while concurrently helping potential ‘side betting’ clients referred by Chau. The accused purportedly then went even further by alleging that the former Suncity Group chief had been aware that the illegal practice was widespread within his company’s VIP rooms and played a major role in the overall gaming industry of Macau.
During earlier testimony and Celestino had reportedly described Cheong as a ‘shareholder’ in Suncity Group and a ‘business partner’ of Chau. Nevertheless, the former junket executive purportedly denied any involvement on his part in ‘side betting’ activities despite an admission that he had been aware of the unlawful system for the precise tracking of such illegal wagering transactions.
For his part and Chau reportedly testified earlier in the week to being aware that ‘side betting’ was going on ‘in all the VIP halls and the halls of the concessionaires in Macau’ usually involving punters who were surrounded by ‘many people.’ Nonetheless, the 48-year-old purportedly maintained his innocence by stating that he was ‘not familiar with gambling’ and ‘not involved in gambling with customers’ as he concentrated solely on running Suncity Group as ‘a global agency service.’