CROWN Resorts Limited (ASX: CWN) has confirmed that 15 employees arrested in police raids across four Chinese cities last October have been charged with gambling promotion offences.
Crown today announced that all its employees currently detained in China as well as those released on bail have been charged but they will not be facing more serious charges related to the laundering of money.
It is believed 14 people, including three Australians, are still being held by Chinese authorities and one has been released on bail.
Gambling and its promotion is illegal in mainland China and they face up to 10 years in jail if convicted. The cases have been referred to the Baoshan District Court.
"As the matter is now before the court, no further comments will be made," says Crown in a statement to the ASX.
The Crown employees in question include Crown's head of VIP gaming, the Melbourne-based Jason O'Connor.
The employees were arrested in October last year after Chinese authorities cracked down on the island of Macau where Crown hosted businessmen, officials, and high rollers from the mainland.
Despite foreign casinos being banned from directly advertising gambling in China, Crown has become increasingly reliant on Chinese high rollers in their casinos and took a risk when operating in Macau.
Following the arrests in October, Crown scaled back its Chinese operations by selling its stake in the Macau-based joint venture Melco Crown.
Crown's VIP and high-roller program took a hit in the group's half year financial report, likely driven by the arrests key employees in China and an aversion to gamble with the Packer owned group.
Two weeks ago, Crown's former Chinese business partner Lawrence Ho attacked the company by saying they were "deliberately spitting in the face" of Chinese authorities by operating in Macau despite the ban on advertising foreign gambling operations.
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