An additional 10 people have been detained in mainland China in connection with investigations into alleged illegal gaming-related marketing activities involving Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd, reports The Australian newspaper.
The story – published on Wednesday – stated “10 Chinese organisers of junkets licensed by the casino operator to bring high rollers to its Australian properties [are] now believed to be in custody.” The term “organisers of junkets” is believed to be a reference to junket agents, the people that recruit the high roller players in mainland China and beyond, and crucially make it their business to know how much the players are worth and what they have in assets.
The report by The Australian stated that 87 customers of Crown Resorts based in mainland China had been questioned by the Chinese authorities following the detention of 18 Crown Resorts employees in mainland China earlier this month. The group of 87 people included the 10 junket agents eventually detained.
The Australian also reported – quoting an industry source it did not indentify – that Crown Resorts customers were not happy to see the casino operator’s client database reportedly in the hands of the mainland Chinese authorities. According to the report, the Chinese police got access to the database after the seizure of the computers and smartphones of the Crown Resorts employees detained.
News of the detention of 18 Crown Resorts employees – in connection with what mainland Chinese authorities called “gambling crimes” – broke on October 15.
Several investment analysts had said in notes issued last week that the detentions were in cities across mainland China, and were connected to marketing activities – for the recruitment by Crown Resorts in mainland China – of high-value players. The company has not commented on the work of the people detained.
Prior to the news of the latest junket agent detentions, a number of investment analysts had noted the initial decision to hold 18 Crown Resorts employees might have a negative impact on agents that scout in mainland China on behalf of casinos – including on behalf of Macau casinos – looking for high value gambling customers. Several analysts said however they thought the action was mostly targeted at overseas (i.e., non-Chinese) casinos that had been seeking to maintain and expand their rosters of Chinese high roller players.
Macau is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China; it is the only place in the country where casino gambling is authorised. The city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac, said on October 20 that the detention in mainland China of employees from Crown Resorts should not have any impact on the Macau casino industry. He added that subsequent to the news of the Crown staff arrests, Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, had held a meeting with the city’s six gaming operators, at which the bureau reminded them of the need strictly to abide by local laws in Macau and elsewhere.
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