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Australian State to Probe Gambling Via China UnionPay

The so-called China UnionPay process allowed “international patrons to access funds in order to gamble at Crown Melbourne”, evading Chinese currency restrictions.

An increasing number of Russian tourists are using Chinese credit cards when visiting countries such as Finland.
Russian tourists have been using UnionPay credit cards to make big withdrawals in Finland in recent weeks since it became easier for them to cross the border. This image shows a UnionPay sign is seen outside a pawn shop in Macau. Photo: Reuters.


An Australian state gambling regulator will launch disciplinary action on Crown Resorts after an inquiry found the Australian casino operator enabled illegal transfer of funds from China.

The company faces fines of up to A$100 million ($76 million) if the allegations are proven.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) said on Tuesday it will launch disciplinary proceedings into what is dubbed the “China UnionPay process”, which was uncovered at Victoria’s royal commission into Crown’s licence.

Crown, which has reported a third consecutive half-yearly loss, said in a statement on Wednesday it would fully co-operate with the VGCCC on the royal commission report’s findings. Crown shares fell 0.4% in morning trading on Wednesday.

According to the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence, the UnionPay process involved use of China-issued bank cards between 2012 and 2016.

The process allowed “international patrons to access funds in order to gamble at Crown Melbourne,” evading Chinese currency restrictions.

The commission found that “Chinese patrons were assisted in illegally transferring up to A$160 million in funds.”

“As a first step, we are acting on the Royal Commission’s findings that Crown’s China UnionPay process breached important Victorian regulatory obligations, was illegal and constituted serious misconduct,” VGCCC chair Fran Thorn said.

An inquiry in October had declared Crown unsuitable to hold a gambling licence in Melbourne, but allowed it to run its biggest-earning casino under supervision.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell



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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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