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Gambling could be next industry targeted by Xi's crackdown: China analyst

Following arrest of gambling CEO Alvin Chau, bets could be off in Xi’s new China

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The Wynn Palace in Macau. (CNA photo)

The Wynn Palace in Macau. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The arrest of gambling group CEO Alvin Chau in Macau is probably the start of a new crackdown on China’s gambling sector, according to veteran China watcher Bill Bishop.

Macau police on Saturday (Nov. 27) arrested Chau, who heads the territory’s biggest casino junket organizer, along with other key persons on allegations they ran an illegal cross-border gambling syndicate. Though casinos and most forms of gambling are illegal in China, with Macau being the only jurisdiction where they are permitted, Chinese authorities have known about Chau’s activities for a long time, raising questions as to the timing of the arrest.

In a Sinocism newsletter released on (Nov. 29), Bishop pondered the significance of the move: “The arrest of Suncity CEO Alvin Chau is fascinating… Perhaps Xi believes there should be no gambling in the New Era, even at massive costs to Macau.”

The reports come after a string of crackdowns on various industries in China this year. CCP leaders have taken aim at tutoring, online gaming, entertainment, real estate, and other sectors. Bishop continues:

“He has already shown a willingness to destroy other industries like tutoring, at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of equity value. What if Xi has decided there is now no room in a modern Socialist China for gambling, that gambling is inimical to the achievement of Common Prosperity, and so will push crackdowns on it with much more rigor than any of his predecessors? How far down could the downside for Macau's gaming sector really be?”

On Wednesday (Dec. 1), Bishop quoted a report by Chinese publication “The Paper” (澎湃) which also hinted Chau’s arrest may just be the beginning. “We will have to wait and see in this case, or this round of crackdowns on gambling, how many respected and influential people may be involved, how much money is involved, and how many criminal gangs are involved,” it reads.