In China, a prominent government minister has reportedly announced that the nation is set to continue its crackdown on cross-border gambling and called on overseas law enforcement bodies to provide more help.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, Guo Shengkun, Public Security Minister for China, made the revelation during a recent meeting in Beijing and declared that his office now intends to additionally investigate illegal investments made by domestic firms in overseas casinos.
Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated an operation dubbed “Duanlian”, which in Chinese translates as “to break the chain”, in February of 2015 and Guo reportedly stated that “work units and individuals who induce and organize tourists to visit overseas casinos” will continue to be “seriously investigated and prosecuted”.
“The [Public Security Ministry] should strengthen international cooperation in anti-gambling and step up overseas law enforcement cooperation and fugitive repatriation,” Guo reportedly told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Guo moreover reportedly asked for the general public to be offered rewards for “reporting clues related to gambling” and explained that his office now intends to utilize “forceful measures” to contain the spread of online gambling, which he accused of inducing corruption and being “against social morality”, while proclaiming that officials would “dig deep and strike underground banks and online payment platforms [that] provide capital settlement to cross-border online gambling”.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that China’s reinvigorated efforts to stop its nationals from travelling overseas in order to gamble will come as a blow to Australian casino giants Crown Resorts Limited and The Star Entertainment Group Limited as both remain reliant on this tourism segment for a large proportion of their businesses.
The newspaper reported that Brisbane-based The Star Entertainment Group Limited de-registered its Echo Entertainment (Shanghai) subsidiary in August of 2016 but is nevertheless growing its domestic footprint using cash from Hong Kong partners. It has partnered with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited and fellow Hong Kong-listed firm Far East Consortium International Limited for a planned $620 million renovation of its Jupiters Hotel And Casino Gold Coast in Queensland while it is additionally using $375 million in foreign cash to add a six-star hotel tower to its The Star Sydney venue.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the news is no less serious for Crown Resorts Limited after 18 of its employees, which included its VIP International Executive General Manager, Jason O’Connor, and fellow Australian nationals Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan, were arrested in Shanghai in October for “gambling crimes”. These workers remain in detention in China while the Melbourne-based firm has since been sued by investors after the arrests led to its share price dropping by some 14%. The class-action lawsuit alleges that the Sydney-listed firm should have notified shareholders prior to the detentions of the risks associated with its strategy of attempting to entice high-value and VIP Chinese nationals to gamble in Australia.