July 13, 2017 by Natalie Whitehead

Australian casino operator Crown Resort recorded VIP gaming revenue of $665 million (A$875 million) for the previous financial year as per court filings available with the Shanghai Baoshan district court.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) gained access to the court documents that were filed in regards to the recently concluded case against the 19 Crown employees who were charged with gambling crimes.

According to the AFR report, gambling regulators in Australia are planning on reviewing the Chinese court decision to understand if Crown breached terms of its casino license in its marketing efforts. Shareholders of the company have also demanded a probe to assess the current reliance of Crown on Chinese VIP gamblers.

The Shanghai Baoshan district court documents show that high rollers from mainland China received VIP rolling chips of $27.2 billion (A$35.8 billion) in the last financial year. Typically gamblers lose nearly 2.5 percent of their rolling chips on an average. This gives a pretty close estimate as to what amount of revenue Crown Resorts was making from Chinese players.

The court filings released last week confirmed that Crown’s Head of VIP Gaming Jason O’Connor had been arrested for adopting aggressive marketing methods in order to attract new customers to the company’s casinos in Australia from Mainland China. Promotion of gambling is barred in mainland China and is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Apart from O’Connor, two other Australian nationals were arrested during the raids carried out in October while the remaining employees were mostly Chinese. According to the court documents, the raids carried out on October 14-15 saw the confiscation of all available
devices such as laptops, mobile phones and iPads. Other critical items such as credit cards were also seized.

While three employees were released on bail soon after their arrest, the remaining 16 employees were still under arrest. They were finally charged formally last month and convicted soon after. The sentences handed out to those charged ranged between 9 to 10 months but were retroactively dated.

China released 10 of them earlier this week including two Australian residents after they completed their mandated jail time of 9 months. O’Connor is expected to released next month as he was allotted a prison sentence of 10 months.

The aftermath of the arrests saw Crown Resorts suffer a drop of nearly 45 percent in its VIP revenue. Since then the company has undertaken an organizational overhaul under which it has withdrawn from its international ventures in favor of focusing on its Australian projects.