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The dark history of Australia’s largest casino

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Feb/15/2020

Gambling activity is considered to be an evil activity, which can never lead to any good and can not be built on any good. This came out to be very much true.

One of the biggest casino operators in Australia, The Crown can be the clear ratification for this statement. 

Crown has been operating in the local market for more than a decade and has been one of the most successful in the industry. But the success of such an industry is usually based on illegal activities, money laundering, underground deals, and other crimes. The individual actors are not the exception and correspond to the long chain. 

The Crown is one of the largest holdings in Australia. It has been successfully operating in Melbourne and Perth and plans to open the new casino complex in Sydney, Barangaroo. Though, as it is said, every family has a skeleton in the wardrobe, meaning that everything can not be clear and perfect all the time. 

The Inside Kitchen 

It was back in 2016 when the notorious knock shook up Jenny Jiang, one of the employees of the Crown Casino. By that time she had been working in the Crown for four years. Jiang was the victim of the illicit activities of the casino and breaching Chinese law. 

According to Chinese law, any kind of popularisation means and marketing campaigns promoting casinos or gambling ventures are prohibited within the whole country. Even in the gambling capital Macau. Gambling has been officially legalized in Macau by the end of the last century and has been generating over 80% revenue of the whole region. Macau is one of the top destinations for junkets, gamblers as well as gangs. Basically, everything that is usually prohibited can be seen in Macau. 

The Crown casino has been convicted for breaching Chinese Law. What Crown Casino did is deeply inconvenient and disrespectful towards its workers. The sales managers of the casino were forced to fulfill their jobs and do their work, which also included illegal campaigns and negotiations. Any casino promotions outside of Macau are strictly banned in the whole of China. This is due to the fact that no Chinese people should be able to take a certain sum of money outside of the country. Even the luxurious items and accessories are being tracked in order for them not to be exchanged for cash. This applies to the gamblers and casino operators as well. 

Chinese high rollers are known for spending millions of dollars on pokies and various table games. According to Jiang, she was amazed by the amount of money Chinese people were able to lose and then win in a matter of an hour. She said that people could enter the casino, lose over $400,000 million and then win billions in just an hour.

Who to blame? 

Remember the knock we have mentioned above? That was the knock of China’s secretive Ministry of Public Security at Jiang’s door, who was working as a travel booker for Crown Casino Australia. And 13th October of 2016 changed her life forever. 

Jiang and 17 other employees were arrested and sent to prison in Shanghai, they were all found guilty in breaching Chinese law regarding the gambling-related activities and operations within the country. 

Jiang knew what was going on, as she knew what they had been doing. And sooner or later that would come up to the surface. They have been warned several times, though no one expected the sooner or later to happen at that moment. 

The main obligation and responsibility of the sales agents in Crown Casino was to attract more customers to Crown Australia. They had to search for the Chinese high rollers and address them in a way to assure them to travel to Australia. Some of the VIP clients were offered luxury trips, private jets, free services in the Crown Hotels, the unnegotiable amount of chips and many more, as well as a quick visa to Australia, especially for gambling purposes. 

The sales agents who knew what they were doing, were also encouraged by the bonuses and fancy promises of a great vacation. Indeed the best sales agents, who would manage to bring more Chinese high rollers to the Australian casinos, could make over $360,000 a year, which is a great salary for the position of the sales agent. This was the main reason why the employees of the Crown would take such huge risks. 

While Jiang also mentioned that the fancy promises and big bonuses were the main reason for them still working for the Crown, there was some information that was hidden from employees. She mentioned that, during the first week of her work, she was warned not to open specific emails and do not get involved in the negotiations with some VIP clients. This perhaps saved 18 arrested people at least somehow. 

The background 

James Packer, who is the former director and the chairman of Crown and now is the biggest shareholder was convicted of the crime of breaching Chinese law. James Packer was the director of the Crown until 2015 when he resigned from the position. This technically means that he had a very passive role in the operation of the casino by the time the employees were arrested and the case rose against Crown. 

James Packer said that he did not know anything about the crime and did not know that such illicit activities were taking place within his casino. This, of course, is not very realistic at the point that James Packer and Lawrence Ho, the son of Steve Ho, who is known for being the head of the Chinese gang, have been in a very close relationship and would call each other brothers. 

James Packer also announced the sale of his almost 20% of shares of the Crown Casino to Ho last year in August. The acquisition had to proceed in two installments. One has already been successfully processed, in July. Ho, the owner of Melco Resorts, bought almost a 10% share from Packer for the $1.7 billion deal. Another 9.9% had to be sold by September, though the deal has been canceled for now, due to the inquiry regarding the legal issues within the casino license. 

All of the workers arrested by the police have been set free, though were found guilty and had to spend some time in prison. While you can generally imagine life in prison, according to Jiang those have been the most crucial moments in her life. She said that she was in a cell with serial killers, prostitutes, and dealers. The only hope that moved her back to life was that she would soon see her family and the incredible support of her husband. 

Two years have passed since the last Crown employee was set free from the prison. Some of the concerns still remain, though most of them have been covered. Crown shut down the Macau office soon after the incident. Now that the Crown Sydney is supposed to be opened by the beginning of 2021, the main hope for the successful operation should be Chinese high rollers as well. Though, now the Crown has to rely on the third parties and the connections, rather than marketing campaigns and other activities breaching the Chinese law. 

 

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