According to this article, the 18 executives of Crown casinos that were arrested in China in October 2016, were in China to collect the debts of what are called “VIP customers” who go on gambling trips through junket schemes. One of the people arrested was Jason O’Connor, who was the VIP executive for Crown Casinos, allegedly responsible for luring rich people from China to gamble in Australia.
It is illegal to solicit gambling services to people in China. O’Connor is believed to have been arrested in October 2016 and has been incarcerated ever since with 17 other Crown employees. When he was arrested, the Crown casino’s VIP operations plummeted 45%. Most large casinos in close proximity to China make money mostly relying upon VIP gambling operations. In Macau, it is Mainland Chinese sub-contractors who arrange the junkets. In the case of Crown, according to this article, it set up offices in China to directly solicit VIP gamblers, rather than using established junket operators.
The arrest was in the midst of something called “Operation Chain Break”, a Chinese operation to stop money laundering through Macau by junket operators but the operation appears to have widened.
The arrest in China is going to require a review by the gambling regulator of the registration of the Australian gambling operations. That is because the arrest and incarceration of Crown employees in China affects the integrity of gambling in Australia.
You can learn more about junkets from our two-part series: “Macau casino junket operators use trade show to polish image” here and “Macau casinos face regulatory balancing act amid international money laundering concerns” here.