Employees of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd are listed to appear at a Shanghai court on June 26 charged with gambling promotion, according to the tribunal’s Chinese-language website. The list published on the website – with a total of 19 names – includes Jason O’Connor, Crown Resorts’ executive vice president for international VIP business.
Crown Resorts had said in a Tuesday filing to the Australian Securities Exchange that all of its employees detained in mainland China in October last year had been charged “with offences related to the promotion of gambling” and would appear at Baoshan District People’s Court in Shanghai.
Australian media outlets had previously stated that three detainees – including Mr O’Connor – were Australian citizens. The other Australians were named as Jerry Xuan, described as the Beijing-based director of international marketing for Crown Resorts, and a woman called Pan Dan.
Both those people are listed on the same court document announcing the court hearing, with Mr Xuan listed as “Xuan Peng”.
The other names, when translated from the original Chinese, are: Yaohui Gaomu; Wang Xun; Liu Yuanzheng; Zhu Bing; Wu Xuefen; Tao Yin; He Xi; Xiong Bin; Dai Bin; Jia Qi; Chi Yang; Cao Zhiqiang; Lv Xiaolei; Jiang Ling; Tang Xiaoqing; and Cai Xiaoyu.
At least one of the Crown Resorts employees, Jenny Jiang – listed on the Baoshan court website as Jiang Ling – had reportedly been released on bail in November last year. Others – including Mr O’Connor – have so far spent eight months in detention in China.
In March this year, Xinhua News Agency, an official Chinese media outlet, quoted Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun as saying China would up its efforts to suppress any attempts to entice Chinese people to visit overseas casinos to gamble.
After the October 2016 detentions of Crown Resorts staff, Australian casino operators reported declines in their respective VIP gambling businesses, an indication the incident had kept some foreign customers away and triggered greater caution in the market.
While casinos are not allowed legally to advertise in mainland China, most foreign operators get around the problem by instead promoting the resorts and cities where the casinos are located.
In May, Crown Resorts said it had completed the disposal of its remaining stake in Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, a company that owns and operates casino properties in Macau and in the Philippines.
Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, chairman and chief executive of Melco Resorts, told the Financial Times newspaper, in an interview in May, that Crown Resorts – controlled by his former business partner James Packer – and other casino operators had upset the Chinese government by engaging staff to promote gambling despite a ban on gambling marketing in mainland China.
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"The stronger mass growth [in Macau in the second quarter] should be viewed positively vis- à-vis [the] government’s stated priority”
Japanese brokerage Nomura