>> It's the high-stakes gamble which has well and truly backfired. 19 current and former staff of Australian casino empire Crown on trial in Shanghai on Monday, pleading guilty to marketing gambling to Chinese nationals. From outside the court, Reuters Engen Tham explains what's involved.>> It ranges from, for example, arranging a visa for a Chinese national to go abroad and gamble, to providing all forms of welfare.
So, for example, providing free hotel rooms for Chinese nationals you want to gamble abroad.>> Among those sentenced on Monday, top execs who admitted to hunting down high rollers and luring them to Crown's Casinos in Macau and abroad, a dangerous game in China, where promoting gambling is illegal.
Two company seniors received 10 and 9 months jail, respectively, but with time already served, they'll soon be free. Most of the Crown employees have been behind bars since last October, arrested during Beijing's sweeping anti-corruption crackdown.>> I spoke to two of the lawyers for two of the defendants, and both of them said that they felt like the outcome was fair.
So from that perspective, I guess it indicates that foreign people that are on trial in China can get a fair result. This case does underline the fact that China will take seriously any attempts by foreign nationals or local nationals using a foreign hotel name to market gambling abroad.
>> This case has been nothing short of humiliating for Crown's operations. In 2013, billionaire boss James Packer declared investing in China would be one of the best decisions he ever made, words he's now come to regret having sold off his stake in the world's biggest casino heart.