China’s “Red King of Gambling” has racked up $160m Debt

As CEO of a Chinese property development company called Dongding Investment, Shao Dongming has amassed over a $1 billion fortune. Unfortunately for Shao, he’s also amassed a $160 million debt in Macau casinos too.

Dubbed the “Red King of Gambling,” he’s become a legend in Macau for placing multi-million dollar bets with no fear. But these giant bets have quickly pushed Dongming into the aforementioned $160 million debt.

Not surprisingly, casinos have been calling about the money, only to receive no payment. And not only has Shao refused to pay up, but he’s also been accused of threatening his creditors if they don’t leave him alone. Interestingly enough, the timing of this all is a big reason why Shao is suddenly at the center of scrutiny.

The billionaire just so happened to rack up his debts at a time when President Xi Jingping is in the midst of an anti-corruption campaign that’s heavily targeted Macau. Combining Shao’s alleged threats with his $160 million gambling debt, it’s little surprise why he’s drawing the interest of the Chinese government.

But this has farther-reaching consequences than a mere unpaid gambling balance – a big one at that. Shao is said to have close ties to the mayor of Shanghai and has also held a lofty position in the Communist Party. So when he also boasted of how these creditors would be harmed or go to jail for messing with him, it definitely raised a red flag. He did himself no favors by building a $160 million debt on top of things either.

The story of Shao is just one of many that could continue to plague China’s wealthy high rollers who also dabble in questionable business/social circles. President Xi seems very serious about doing whatever it takes to rid as many corrupt government officials as possible.

Sadly, this is all coming at a cost to Macau, which was booming until the end of 2014. This is about the same time that Xi’s anti-corruption crackdown came about, with some Macau local government officials being replaced as a result. The cause and effect has seen fewer and fewer high rollers frequent the former Portuguese colony over the past few months. And until this trend starts to settle down, expect more revenue decreases for Macau over the coming months.