Crown Resorts staff jailed for enticing Chinese gamblers

Crown in Melbourne Image copyright WILLIAM WEST

Three Australian employees of casino group Crown Resorts have been jailed after pleading guilty to illegally promoting gambling in China.

Jason O'Connor, a senior executive in charge of attracting Chinese high-rollers, was sentenced to 10 months by the Baoshan District Court in Shanghai.

Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan received nine-month jail terms. All are likely to be freed soon after time spent on remand.

Casino gambling and promoting gambling abroad, are illegal in mainland China.

In all 17 current and two former employees of Crown Resorts were convicted. All the other defendants are Chinese apart from one who is Malaysian.

Thirteen defendants received jail terms of similar lengths to the Australians. Three others bailed last November were spared prison or a fine.

The arrests took place in October last year, after a police operation believed to target Crown's marketing activities.

VIP business

Crown Resorts is controlled by Australian billionaire James Packer.

Like other casino groups across Asia, it sees wealthy Chinese gamblers as an important part of its business.

International high-rollers, known as VIPs, gambled $46.8bn (£37bn; A$61bn) in the last financial year in Crown's Melbourne and Perth casinos.

Crown said that Chinese gamblers only made up half this total and counted for just 12% of total revenue for the business.

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