James Packer's staff detained in China

JAMES Packer's casino operation Crown Resorts has revealed employees detained in China have been charged with offences related to promotion of gambling.

Seventeen Crown staff including three Australians were detained in raids in October last year across four cities in mainland China on suspicion of what Chinese officials called "gambling crimes".

There are conflicting reports regarding how many employees were charged, however it's understood all 17 will face court.

The charges are less stern than some had predicted, with gambling offences attracting penalties of three years behind bars.

Fears were mounting they could be charged with something like money laundering which attracts sterner penalties.

Crown said the cases have been referred to the Baoshan District Court.

"As the matter is now before the court, no further comments will be made," it said in a brief statement.

In a positive sign for the Crown employees the case has moved relatively quickly through the Chinese legal system.

Cases of this sort can take up to two years to progress from police to prosecutors and the court, this has taken nine months.

A previous case for Korean casino workers took 18 months to get to the same place.

The case could now go to court within a fortnight, or months, depending on how overloaded the court system is.

The Crown employees are being held at the Shanghai detention centre on the outskirts of the major Chinese metropolis.

News Corp Australia

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