The public Crown Macau arrests have put the casino chain in a dangerous position. Since the arrests of seventeen Crown employees were made in November, including three Australians, there has been a lot of speculation over the future of the Melco Crown partnership. After the Crown decreased its Chinese shares, the focus has been on the Australian market.
James Packer announced, on 31 January, that he would be returning to his position as chairman of Crown Resorts after Robert Rankin decided to step down. While choosing his words carefully, Packer confirmed that the Crown Macau arrests would be his focus. The safety of the seventeen employees rumoured to have committed “gambling crimes” has become the priority of Packer and his chain.
Crown Resorts keeping quiet about arrests
Since the arrests were made in mid-November of 2016, Crown Resorts, as well as Packer, have kept quiet on the subject. Many sources speculate that their silence is to maintain their employees’ safety while the Chinese government continues to hold them without formal charges. It is expected that the charges will be formalised by mid-year, while a trial may occur even later.
The deference by Crown Resorts to the Communist party and Beijing is believed to aid Crown in cutting a deal for their employees. By lowering the case’s profile, James Packer and his team are giving their employees the best chance of getting home by year end. Australian Consulate officials have visited the employees at the detention centre in Shanghai, but have made no statements publicly about the situation.
Crown Resorts Future
The future of Crown Resorts remains unclear, though the company has made it clear that its focus will be on Australian assets. One of which is the Crown Sydney casino development, a new six-star hotel located in Barangaroo. The project is estimated to cost AUS$2 billion to complete and is set to capitalise on Chinese tourists as well as the Asian VIP market.
Near the end of 2016, Crown Resorts had restructured their company to minimise publicity for the arrests. The restructuring is also reported to aid Crown Resorts in raising profits for 2017. However, it is unclear what other plans lay in store for the company that has come under scrutiny at every turn.
Hopefully, 2017 will mark the end of Crown Resorts’ troubles so that they can focus on their new and existing casinos, such as the Crown Towers Perth.