Crown Resorts had already been warned by Chinese authorities to halt its efforts attracting high rollers from the mainland once before, Bloomberg reports.
According to an insider in the investigation, after the warning, Chinese authorities observed that Crown had senior executives make short business trips to China instead of long trips in the country. They also noted that the company shifted its marketing activities to focus more on resorts instead of casinos. Authorities don’t perceive those actions as amounting to a material change in Crown’s activities, the source said, speaking to Bloomberg.
Chinese authorities confirmed on Monday that staff members of Crown were being held for alleged “gambling crimes”.
At least one of the detainees is believed to be Crown’s head of VIP International, Jason O’Connor.
There was speculation that O’Connor was in China seeking to collect outstanding gambling debts, but Crown has denied these rumours.
Crown held an emergency board meeting on Monday night in a bid to contain the unfolding crisis. James Packer also voiced his concern over the detainees and their families.
“I am respectful that these detentions have occurred in another country and are therefore subject to their sovereign rules and investigative processes,” he said on Tuesday, adding that he “asked Crown to do everything possible to contact our employees and to support their families, as we await further details from Chinese authorities”.