Chinese police formally arrest 17 Crown Resorts employees

Crown Casino MelbourneThe 17 Crown Resorts employees detained in China are now facing several more months behind bars after they were formally arrested in relation to unspecified gambling crimes.

Among the detainees are three Australians: Pan Dan, Jerry Xuan and Jason O’Connor – Crown’s head of VIP international gambling operations.

The group also includes a Malaysian, Alfreado Gomez, along with 14 Chinese citizens.

Another Australian resident, who was arrested in the October raids but is not directly employed by Crown, is also facing formal charges.

It is thought that man is Tian Di – a private junket operator who acts as a go-between for Crown and the casino’s most privileged VIP clients.

There were hopes that China might be ready to drop the case after Jiang Ling, also known as Jenny Jiang, was released on bail on November 10.

But the families of the detained staffers have revealed that Chinese authorities began issuing official notices of arrest on Sunday.

“The notice just says they have been arrested under ‘gambling crimes’, that’s it,” one relative told Fairfax Media.

The detained staffers are mostly members of the Crown Resorts sales and marketing team.

It is illegal to advertise gambling activities in mainland China, where all forms of casino betting are banned.

However, there is no law against casino operators marketing products and facilities that are not related to gambling, such as accommodation, dining and other resort features.

Given there are more than 30 casinos in Macau, many of which run similar marketing programs, it remains unclear why China has singled out Crown for special treatment.

U Io Hung, who heads a VIP junket program in Macau, believes James Packer and his organisation raised too high a profile in Asia and needed more middlemen who were not directly in Crown’s employ.

“They went over themselves to look for clients… they just wanted revenue. They’ve made a big mistake,” said Mr. U.

“They come over with their business cards they say ‘I’m Crown, I’ll use a private jet to send you over there’, it’s too obvious.

“We perform our business in the grey zone of the Chinese law, we will visit some potential clients [but] not directly tell them our actual job.”