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article imageMacau prostitution ring busted, tycoon's nephew arrested

By AFP     Jan 13, 2015 in World

Police in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau have busted a major prostitution ring and arrested more than 100 people, including the nephew of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho, city authorities said Tuesday.

The syndicate sourced prostitutes online, mostly from mainland China, to solicit at a Macau hotel, turning an estimated annual profit of 400 million patacas ($50 million), Vong Chi-hong, spokesman for the city's Judiciary Police told AFP.

It is the largest prostitution syndicate to be broken up since the former Portuguese colony was returned to China in 1999, "both in terms of money involved and number of prostitutes", he said.

Vong said prostitutes had to pay a 150,000-yuan membership fee ($24,200) to join the group and were allowed to solicit at a hotel after paying a monthly fee.

Alan Ho, a nephew of casino tycoon Stanley, was arrested with several other alleged ringleaders and 96 prostitutes in a raid on Saturday, a government source confirmed. A photograph in the South China Morning Post showed him handcuffed and being led away by police.

According to a police statement, one million patacas in cash was discovered during the bust and a computer containing a list of 2,400 prostitutes was seized.

The southern Chinese city, the only place on Chinese soil that allows gambling, overtook Las Vegas as the world's casino capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002, and now enjoys gambling revenues multiple times that of the American city.

But after a decade of booming growth the industry saw its first annual decline in casino revenues in 2014, following a crackdown on corruption by the Chinese government.

Dubbed the "King of Gambling", the ailing Stanley Ho, 93, secured a monopoly on Macau's casinos for four decades in the 1960s before licenses were granted to rival firms including some major global players.

His flagship SJM Holdings could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

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