The marketing conducted by Crown Resorts Ltd in mainland China was too aggressive according to Melco International’s Lawrence Ho. The Chinese authorities’ crackdown was to eliminate the illegal marketing gambling activities.
This lead to 18 Crown employees’ detainments, four of which are Australian. Fifteen of them are still detained in Shanghai while the other three have been released on bail.
Crown’s James Packer is not the only to have gone through this with Melco, back in 2015, there was a similar incident with a South Korean casino operator.
Lawrence Ho – Nothing Personal
Though Lawrence Ho considers James Packer a good friend he says that “In all of those instances, you had casino sales people running around offering credit, talking about collection, it wasn’t discreet.” referring to the Crown and previous arrests of South Korean employees.
Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal. Gambling advertising of any sort is however illegal in the mainland China.
Mr Ho’s intentions are to expand, seeking casino licenses in Japan, he further says “But my view and his view on China and the world was different at that time. I wanted to double up and he wanted to focus more on his domestic Australian assets.”
James Packer sold Crown’s stake back to Melco International Development which is a Hong Kong-listed group that Lawrence Ho leads, for $1.16 Billion. He plans to build a High Roller casino at the Sydney Harbour, to the value of $2 billion. He said “We are drilling down, back to our core domestic market”
Lawrence Ho, on the other hand, is planning to seek licensing in Japan following the voting to legalise gambling as part of integrated resorts by Japanese lawmakers.
“When you go to the Kansai region, it’s more fun, really, and we’re a company that focuses on fun and entertainment” Mr Ho said as he sets his sights on Osaka (located in the Kansai region).
The detained employees’ case has been handed to the district prosecutor and may be facing lower-level charges, which might mean good news for them.