Australian government officials will visit three Australian Crown Resorts employees detained in China on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed.
DFAT officials had previously seen two of the detained workers but will gain access to the third person for the first time on Friday.
A departmental spokeswoman said on Thursday the government would provide consular support to the three workers and their families “for as long as necessary”.
Crown Resorts said on Thursday its top priority was to help its 18 detained employees and their families, but the casinos operator did not yet have enough information to make informed comments on the matter.
The Crown employees, believed to be sales and marketing staff, were detained in China last week but no details have been officially released and no charges have been laid.
Media reports have suggested that the detentions may be linked to breaches of China’s gambling promotion laws and Crown’s efforts to entice mainland Chinese citizens to bet overseas.
Gambling, except for lotteries, and the advertising of gambling, are prohibited on mainland China.
“Given the current lack of information available, it is not possible for anyone to be able to provide any informed commentary on these detentions,” chairman Robert Rankin told shareholders at Crown’s annual general meeting in Perth on Thursday.
“Likewise, any assessment at this time as to any material impact on our business is both premature and speculative.”
In an update on trading from July to mid-October, Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie said turnover generated by Crown’s VIP high-rolling gambling business in Melbourne and Perth had been softer than the prior year.
But this was unrelated to the detentions in China.
Mr Rankin said Crown was working with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Australian and Malaysian consular officials and Crown’s lawyers in China to obtain more information, understand the reasons for the detentions – and ultimately to resolve the crisis.
Mr Rankin said the safety and welfare of those detained was of immediate concern to the company, management, staff and biggest shareholder, billionaire James Packer.
Mr Rankin acknowledged that the employees had been detained in a foreign country and were subject to its legal system, but they were entitled to a presumption of innocence.
He said Crown had to be cautious about what it says in relation to the detentions.