Crown Casino Employees Arrested in China

Crown Confirms Chinese "Questioning" of Staff

James Packer's business has a substantial presence in Macau.

Three top executives from James Packer's Crown Resorts Australian gambling group are reportedly among 18 arrested by Chinese authorities last week.

They include James O'Connor, the company's Executive General Manager of international VIP services, who heads a program to bring high-roller Chinese players to Melbourne's Crown Casino.

The group was arrested as part of the Chinese government's crackdown on illegal gambling advertising. They were visiting China on business when the arrests were made on Thursday.

At present, it is not clear if any charges have been made against the men.

China is obliged to advise Australian authorities if any of its citizens have been arrested within 72 hours.

Crown Confirms Employee Arrest

A spokesman for Crown Resorts issued a statement saying: "Crown believes that a number of our employees in China are being questioned by local authorities and at this time we can provide no further details."

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Australia said that it was seeking to confirm the media reports coming out of China regarding the arrests.

"The Australian Government is aware of reports of the possible detention of a number of Crown International Group employees across China, including three Australians," said the department.

"Consular officials are seeking to confirm these reports with the relevant Chinese authorities," it was added. "If Australians have been detained, consular officials will seek to offer appropriate consular assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter."

Chinese Crackdown on Gambling

In recent years, the Chinese government has taken a tough stance on gambling, amidst the backdrop of an anti-corruption drive. The authorities targeted mainly money laundering in Macau.

Crown Resorts, which has a strong presence in Macau, has felt the impact of this crackdown through falling revenues. Crown and its competitors have complained about fewer customers and lower spending as a result.

Crown Resorts run three casinos in Macau, although it was reported that the arrests took place in multiple cities around mainland China.