Aus­tralians nabbed in gam­bling raid

Crack­down tar­geted those who try to lure ‘high rollers’ to over­seas casi­nos

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By MO­JINGXI mo­jingxi@chi­

China con­firmed onMon­day that some Aus­tralian na­tion­als were de­tained in Shang­hai for sus­pected gam­bling crimes, adding that “the case is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion”.

“The po­lice have, in ac­cor­dance with laws and bi­lat­eral agree­ments, no­ti­fied the Aus­tralian con­sulate gen­eral in Shang­hai of the de­ten­tion,” For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing told a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing.

Aus­tralian casino gi­ant Crown Re­sorts said on Mon­day that China had de­tained 18 of its em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing three Aus­tralians.

Hua, with­out con­firm­ing the num­ber of Aus­tralians de­tained, said the Chi­nese side will guar­an­tee the le­gal rights and in­ter­ests of con­cerned par­ties, and con­sular of­fi­cials could visit and of­fer nec­es­sary as­sis­tance.

Fair­fax Me­dia re­ported over the week­end that po­lice took the three Aus­tralians, who were vis­it­ing China on busi­ness, and lo­cal Chi­nese

Hua Chun­y­ing,

spokes­woman for the For­eign Min­istry em­ploy­ees based in sev­eral Chi­nese cities, in­clud­ing Bei­jing and Shang­hai, from their homes late on Thurs­day and de­tained them.

Casino gam­bling is il­le­gal on the Chi­nese main­land and Chi­nese law pro­hibits agents from or­ga­niz­ing groups of more than 10 Chi­nese cit­i­zens to gam­ble abroad. The crime is pun­ish­able by up to three years’ im­pris­on­ment.

The com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tive gen­eral man­ager in charge of in­ter­na­tional VIP ser­vices, Ja­son O’Con­nor, is be­lieved to be among those de­tained, the com­pany said in a state­ment.

O’Con­nor heads up a pro­gram de­signed to lure “high rollers” to Crown Casino in Mel­bourne, ac­cord­ing to the Syd­neyMorn­ing Herald.

Las Ve­gas casino gi­ant MGM shut its mar­ket­ing of­fice on the Chi­nese main­land years ago after a sim­i­lar brush with po­lice.

Crown has ben­e­fit­ted from an up­surge in Chi­nese tourists at its Aus­tralian casi­nos. The com­pany’s 2016 an­nual re­port showed that more than one-third of rev­enue gen­er­ated by its Aus­tralian re­sorts in the past fi­nan­cial year was from in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, mainly from the Chi­nese main­land, The Wall Street Jour­nal said.

In Fe­bru­ary last year, the Min­istry of Public Se­cu­rity started to crack­downongam­bling na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing on groups that or­ga­nize trips for Chi­nese na­tion­als to visit casi­nos over­seas.

Last year, po­lice ar­rested 13 South Korean casino man­agers and 34 Chi­nese agents for sell­ing pack­ages with free tours, free ac­com­mo­da­tion and sex­ual ser­vices.

The po­lice have ... no­ti­fied the Aus­tralian con­sulate gen­eral in Shang­hai of the de­ten­tion.”

Agen­cies con­trib­uted to this story.

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