China releases jailed Crown Casino staff

  • Crown Casino staff arrested in China now released.
  • 19 individuals in total released, James O’Connor deported to Australia.

Crown Resorts has revealed that all employees held in China on anti-gambling charges have now been released. High roller executive James O’Connor was previously released in early August, but now all the employees have been reunited with their families, according to statements from Crown.

“Crown is pleased that all of our employees have now been released and reunited with their families and loved ones.”
Executive chairman John Alexander

Jason O'Connor Crown Resorts
Jason O’Connor / Crown Resorts

Crown employees detained in China

19 current and former employees of Crown Resorts, owned by mogul James Packer, were detained by Chinese authorities in June. They faced charges of allegedly promoting casinos in China, illegal under anti-gambling laws. Specifically, they were charged with organising gambling parties and being “engaged in gambling as one’s main business for the purpose of making profits”.

Jason O’Connor, the VIP executive of Crown, was sentenced to ten months in prison and fined $390,000. Other high-profile members of the group faced similar sentences. O’Connor was deported to Australia as part of his release and it’s likely that the other employees were given the same treatment as appropriate.

Chinese crackdown continues

The reason for the detention of these Crown staff members is in relation to China’s tough anti-gambling laws. While gambling remains illegal in the country, demand is high and wealthy Chinese citizens are known to travel abroad to play.

Foreign resorts are known to court these potential high rollers, presenting their casino resorts as holidays. However, the Chinese government is clearly not standing for this and shutting down such loopholes.

Crown has already suffered from a loss in revenue from Chinese players. Last year the company sold its stake in Macau‘s Melco joint venture and halting plans for a Las Vegas casino. The Australian stock exchange saw a drop of 0.87 percent at Aus$11.60 in shares in Crown, on Monday.

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