Crown Casino Employees Detained in China Now Charged

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CANBERRA, Australia (Associated Press) — Australian and Chinese casino employees detained in China in October have all been charged with promoting gambling, their Australian employer said Tuesday.

China confirmed in November that it would prosecute three Australian employees of Crown Resorts Ltd. for allegedly violating strict Chinese gambling regulations. The company confirmed on Tuesday that the 15 employees based in China and detained at the same time in four Chinese cities had also been charged.

"Crown Resorts Ltd. announced today that all its detained employees in China as well as those employees released on bail have now been charged with offences related to the promotion of gambling and their cases have been referred to the Baoshan District Court" in Shanghai, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

"As the matter is now before the court, no further comments will be made," the statement added.

The three Australians include the head of Crown's VIP International team, Jason O'Connor, who was visiting China from Melbourne. The others are Australian-Chinese dual nationals Jerry Xuan and Jenny Pan.

Casino gambling is illegal in mainland China and agents are banned from organizing groups of more than 10 Chinese citizens to gamble abroad. According to Chinese law, anyone who "runs a gambling house or makes gambling his profession" can face up to three years in prison.

The industry has been known to skirt the ban by touting destination packages rather than gambling, particularly as Chinese President Xi Jinping's ongoing corruption crackdown has deterred some gamblers from the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

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