The Australian newspaper has reported that Chinese authorities have continued their crackdown on gambling promoters in Mainland China and have arrested another 10 individuals. The 10 people in custody are suspected of being junket operators whose role is to round up high-rollers from Mainland China and take them to casino properties overseas where they spend large sums of money at the casinos.
The Australian had stated ‘10 Chinese organisers of junkets licensed by the casino operator to bring high rollers to its Australian properties [are] now believed to be in custody.” The crackdown is due to the fact that junkets and international casino promoters are taking money out of China by recruiting these VIP gamblers to their international casinos and getting them to spend large sums of money at their facilities.
The Australian casino industry was shaken last week when reports emerged that the authorities in Mainland China had arrested up to 18 Crown Resort employees including Jason O’Connor, Crown’s executive VP for International operations. Crown’s share prices plummeted by 18 percent and Australia’s Star Entertainment, a rival of Crown saw its share prices dropping by 12 percent. The arrests prompted Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier to cancel his plans of visiting Macau and Hong Kong and instead focus on meeting his group of investors.
The Chinese police have been interrogating these 18 Crown Resort employees for a number of days and have reportedly gained a lot of information including gaining access to computers and smartphones. The Australian reported that the Chinese police had also succeeded in gaining access to Crown Resort’s database of Chinese gamblers which led them to question 87 Crown customers and their overseas activities.
These 87 Crown customers were not very happy to see that the Chinese authorities had access over Crown’s database as they will now have a lot of explaining to do to the authorities. Local media reports that a number of international casino operators have pulled their overseas employees out of China in order to prevent being caught up in the Crown Resort raids. Reports suggest that Chinese authorities were also aware that Star Entertainment had 12 employees in Mainland China to conduct similar overseas recruitment activities like Crown Resorts but suspended their operations as soon as news broke of the crackdown.
Lionel Leong Vai Tac, the Secretary for Economy and Finance in Macau stated that the crackdown by Chinese authorities should not impact the recovery of Macau’s casino industry and gaming analysts supported the view as they believe that the crackdown targeted overseas operators who were luring VIP Chinese gamblers to their resorts. However, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau erred on the side of caution by holding meetings with the six major gaming operators cautioning them to ensure that their casino properties strictly comply with Macau’s gaming laws.