Crown Resorts staff freed from Chinese jail

A man tries his luck at a wheel of fortune machine Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gambling is illegal in China, except for Macau

Ten employees of Australian casino group Crown Resorts have been released from a Chinese jail.

The group, including Australians Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan, served nine months in prison after admitting illegally promoting gambling in China.

Six others remain in custody including Jason O'Connor, an Australian Crown executive due to be freed next month.

The group was arrested in October last year, after a police operation targeting Crown's marketing activities.

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

VIP business

Aside from the three Australians, all the other defendants were Chinese apart from one Malaysian.

As well as the jail terms, a Shanghai court last month fined the group 8.62m yuan ($1.27m; £1m), which Crown has agreed to pay.

Image copyright WILLIAM WEST

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 A$61bn ($46.8bn; £36.4bn) in the last financial year in Crown's Melbourne and Perth casinos.

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

Until May, Crown Resorts also held a stake in a Macau casino, which it sold to partner Melco Resorts and Entertainment.

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