HONG KONG, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Police in Macau, the world's
biggest gambling hub, said on Sunday they had arrested two men
for alleged illegal gambling and money laundering, as
authorities step up a crackdown on illicit capital outflows from
the Chinese mainland.
"One of the men involved was responsible for operating an
illegal gambling syndicate while the other offered assistance,"
the 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 resort 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 the personal affairs of Mr
Chan and is not related to the group. The board does not expect
the above incident to have a material adverse impact on the
daily operations," Macau Legend said.
Chan is also chairman of Tak Chun Group, Macau's
second-biggest junket operator. Tak Chun did not immediately
respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to reach
Analysts said the arrests herald a new era of zero tolerance
of the promotion of gambling in China, where all forms of
gambling are illegal, and officials seek to cut off outflows of
Junket operators have traditionally offered easy credit for
mainland Chinese high rollers who play in Beijing-ruled Macau's
casinos and collect on their debts using underground financing
channels, executives say.
The arrests announced on Sunday come two months after Macau
authorities arrested the high-profile head of Suncity junket,
Alvin Chau https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinas-wenzhou-issues-arrest-warrant-macau-junket-mogul-chau-2021-11-27.
Now nearly nonexistent, the opaque VIP industry made up more
than two-thirds of Macau's gambling revenue until just a few
years ago, official data shows.
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 had been the top two junket firms in
Macau, employing thousands, but data from Macau's gambling
regulator shows the number of licensed junkets has shrunk 46%
over the past 12 months.
Macau's VIP industry had fallen to a quarter of overall
gaming revenue in the last quarter of 2021, with the junket
business constricted by China's crackdown on capital outflows
and coronavirus curbs on travel, official data shows.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Clarence Fernandez,
William Mallard and Barbara Lewis)