Arrested Crown Employees Face Gambling Promotion Charges In China
Crown Resorts has announced that the 15 of its employees arrested by Chinese authorities last year have been formally charged with promoting gambling in the Mainland. The charges are being framed against those still under detention as well as those released on bail.
The cases are now under the jurisdiction of the Baoshan District Court in Shanghai, according the company’s statement. No further comments were shared by the company as it said that the cases were now pending before courts.
Casino operators are not allowed to promote gambling directly under Chinese laws. Operators can however market other casino features like theme parks and the cities the casinos are located in. The announcement confirms the reports seen in April that the authorities had transferred the case to the Shanghai’s Baoshan District People’s Procurator. It was speculated at that time that since the case was allotted to a district prosecutor rather than a city one, the charges filed would be less severe.
Around 18 Crown employees had been arrested in China for gambling related crimes as announced by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2016. They were arrested after raids were conducted in four cities across China. A few were later released on bail.
Three Australian nationals are also among those arrested including Crown’s executive vice president for international VIP business Jason O’Connor. Others in the group comprise a number of Chinese citizens and one Malaysian.
The raids were a part of a crackdown initiated by China’s Ministry of Public Security against foreign casinos who were promoting gambling to Chinese residents on the mainland. The authorities had made similar arrests in earlier cases involving gambling promotion. The arrests last year resulted in a sharp decline in VIP revenue for Australian casinos due to Chinese gamblers becoming wary of visiting Australian casinos. Crown Resorts was particularly affected with its VIP revenue dropping by over 45 percent in the succeeding six months.
Subsequent to the arrests, Crown undertook a massive organizational overhaul which included the decision to withdraw from international ventures. Accordingly, Crown sold its stake in Macau gaming firm Melco Crown Entertainment which was a 12-year joint venture between Crown Resorts and Melco International.
Melco Resorts chairman Lawrence Ho Yau Lung had stated in a media interview that Crown Resorts as well as other casino operators had upset the Chinese government by ignoring the ban and promoting gambling in the mainland.
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