In Australia and an official enquiry looking into the license suitability of Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly taken evidence from one of the firm’s employees that was arrested by Chinese authorities in 2016 for illegally promoting gambling.
According to a Sunday report from Inside Asian Gaming, Jason O’Connor (pictured) served as the casino operator’s VIP International Executive General Manager but spent ten months in a Shanghai prison after being convicted of illicitly enticing high-value Chinese citizens to gamble at overseas venues run by Crown Resorts Limited.
Inside Asian Gaming reported that O’Connor told the wide-ranging examination being conducted by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority that he had expressed concerns before his detention to those further up the corporate food chain that the Melbourne-headquartered company may have been placing profits before worker safety. The source detailed that the executive was eventually released in August of 2017 but also believes that his employers were ‘blinkered’ to the dangers of promoting their services to prospective customers in mainland China.
O’Connor reportedly told the enquiry…
“I thought at the time there was something of a disconnect between the business volumes and profits our business unit was able to deliver relevant to what was expected.”
Inside Asian Gaming reported that O’Connor moreover admitted to having been ‘very concerned’ by the similar arrests in 2015 of 13 representatives from South Korean casinos but realized that his ‘challenge would be convincing our masters that they needed to temper their expectations’. He purportedly believed that ‘conservative expectations’ would not be ‘well received’ as Crown Resorts Limited sought to boost takings in the run-up to starting work on its $1.5 billion Crown Sydney development.
O’Connor reportedly explained…
“I’ll be the first to concede that we overlooked some of the signals. I didn’t fully appreciate the Chinese legal system doesn’t operate the way the western system does.”
However, O’Connor reportedly furthermore told the enquiry that he believes Crown Resorts Limited, which is responsible for the Crown Perth and Crown Melbourne properties, had been acting within the realms of mainland Chinese law before his arrest based on advice from a local law firm.
The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority reportedly initiated its expansive examination into Crown Resorts Limited in February seeking to determine if the firm remains suitable to hold a casino license for its under-construction Crown Sydney development. This waterfront property for the largest city in New South Wales is due to begin welcoming guests later this year although investigators are purportedly hoping to pre-empt this opening with a determination on whether its operator has contravened any of the principles behind the governing Casino Control Act.