Posted on: April 25, 2022, 02:30h.
Last updated on: April 25, 2022, 05:58h.
Disgraced Macau junket group Suncity’s media and entertainment arm is mulling a name change as it seeks to distance itself from its jailed founder, Alvin Chau.
Sun Entertainment Group Ltd has told shareholders that it should become “Yeah Yeah Group Holdings” to distance itself from the Suncity Group brand. This would help “improve its corporate image” and better reflect its “business and its future development direction,” Macau Business reports.
The company will ask shareholders to vote on the issue at its next annual general meeting, which has yet to be convened.
Sun Entertainment has invested, produced, and distributed more than 150 movies, largely within the Hong Kong film industry. Recently, these have included Enter the Fat Dragon, a Kung Fu action-comedy about a rogue cop who gains weight because of emotional issues. It took $38,561 at the box office.
It has also organized 90 concerts, exhibitions, and plays in Hong Kong, Macau, and around the world, according to its website. Unusually, it also provides funeral and cremation services.
Triads in Macau
But its origins lie in the triad-backed junkets that fought vicious turf wars to control Macau’s illegal gambling dens and legal casino VIP rooms in the 1990s.
Macau’s most powerful triad group was the 14K, led by notorious gangster “Broken Tooth” Wan Kwuok Koi. According to Australian authorities, a young triad member named Alvin Chau was among his ranks.
In November 1999, Wan was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of illegal gambling, loansharking, criminal association, and the attempted car bombing of a police chief. Two years later, Macau opened its previously monopolized casino market up to international operators, and it grew into the world’s biggest gambling hub.
Much of its business was driven by the junkets, which funneled a steady stream of Chinese high rollers into the enclave. The junkets were lending them gambling money to bypass controls on the movement of cash out of mainland China.
While Broken Tooth languished in prison, Chau became unimaginably wealthy. Macau’s casinos hit their peak in 2014 when gaming revenue was more than US$45 billion, three times that of Las Vegas.
Around 60% of this was driven by the junkets, and Chau’s company, Suncity, was the biggest, accounting for around 40% of the junket market.
During this period, triads became “legitimate” businessmen, and Chau grew Suncity into a multi-billion conglomerate with interests in casinos, real estate, and through Sun Entertainment, the entertainment business.
But Chau was not legitimate enough for the government in Beijing. It gradually lost its patience with the junket industry as it escalated its war on cross-border gambling.
Last November, Chinese authorities issued a warrant for Chau’s arrest. Two days later, he was detained by authorities in Macau on charges of operating a criminal syndicate, offering illegal online proxy betting from the Philippines, and money laundering. It signaled the collapse of the once-all-powerful junket industry in Macau.
In December, Suncity’s junket arm, Suncity Gaming Promotion Company Ltd (SGPC), was dissolved.
Chau is still a major shareholder in the wider Suncity Group, which owns casinos in Russia and Vietnam and is building the Westside City Project in Manila, the Philippines. He is awaiting trial.