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HONG KONG: Police in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, said on Sunday (Jan 30) they had arrested two men for suspected illegal gambling and money laundering, as authorities step up a crackdown against illicit capital outflows from the Chinese mainland.

“One of the men involved was responsible for operating an illegal betting syndicate while the other offered help,” police said in a statement on their official Wechat account, without naming either man.

Local media said one was Levo Chan, president of Tak Chun Group, Macau’s second-largest scrap dealer. Tak Chun did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to reach Chan separately.

Analysts said the arrests herald a new era of zero tolerance for gambling promotion in China, where all forms of gambling are illegal and officials seek to cut off the outflow of funds.

Junk dealers have traditionally offered easy credit to high rollers from mainland China who gamble at casinos in Beijing-ruled Macau and collect their debts using underground financing channels, executives say.

The arrests announced Sunday come two months after authorities in Macau arrested high-profile Suncity boss Alvin Chau.

Now almost non-existent, the opaque VIP industry accounted for more than two-thirds of Macau’s gambling revenue until just a few years ago, according to official data.

Industry publication GGR Asia cited a police report on Sunday that identified those arrested as Chan, 49, and Choi, 34.

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