Three Australian employees of Crown Resorts in Shanghai were handed short jail terms after a being charged with casino gambling, the marketing of casinos and organizing overseas gambling trips for groups of more than 10 people, which is considered illegal in China. A total of 19 casino employees pleaded guilty and will be jailed for a year.
The people’s court in Baoshan district in Shanghai sentenced 17 currents and two former employees to nine months of imprisonment after the have been found guilty of organizing gambling parties and deriving profit from it as a main income. Jason O’Connor, Crown’s Head of International VIP gambling has been given ten months. Other people charged with nine months of jail are Australian-Chinese dual nationals Jerry Xuan and Jenny Pan, which pleaded guilty. 16 of the nineteen defendants also had to pay a total of 8.62 million yuan ($1.67 million).
They were taken into custody by the Chinese authorities on the 14th of October last year, but the trial took place this month. The sentences the employees received are considered very convenient by each and every one of them as well as by their lawyer Zhai Jian, who confirmed that they all pleaded guilty.
The only place where such activities are considered legal and people are permitted to be involved in them is Macau, which is currently a thriving casino location. Organizing such gambling ventures on the mainland is illegal and is, therefore, to be charged with up to three years in prison. These recent events have made Crown reconsider their overall strategy of luring wealthy Chinese in Macau’s gambling-saturated territory and they have already sold their remaining stake in Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. for $1.16 billion.
Crown does not directly run casinos in China, but instead, its Australian locations rely heavily on Chinese gamblers. Melco Resorts & Entertainment is focused and based in Macau, Asia’s gambling hub. A very effective way to skirt China’s laws and casino ban is by touting destination packages instead of gambling and this has been a regular practice in the field. Crown Resorts shares fell to their lowest $9.71 after last year’s detentions, but on Friday they were trading at $12.65.
China has been well-known for its ongoing process of blocking of foreign casinos from attracting wealthy Chinese gamblers to their casino locations. As many people interested in the casino industry might know, thirteen managers of South Korean casinos were arrested in China in 2015. The charges were that they offering free tours, free hotels and sexual services to Chinese gamblers.