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Ben Simmons comments after Crown video

Fri, Aug 9, 8:21am by Staff Writer

Australian NBA All-Star Ben Simmons was travelling in Victoria on a promotional trip when he posted a video after he was allegedly denied entry to a gambling area at Crown Casino.

The Age is reporting Visit Victoria said the trip to Crown was not part of its deal with Simmons to promote the state to a global audience.

Simmons had not been paid to be in Melbourne or for any of his private expenses, Visit Victoria added.

Simmons made headlines this week when he posted the video on social medial complaining he and a group of friends were denied entry to a casino gambling area.

“Visit Victoria has a standard commercial arrangement with Ben Simmons to utilize his international profile in promoting Victoria to a global audience,” a spokesman said.

“The agreement contains standard obligations, and payments are only triggered when certain milestones are met.”

Visit Victoria did not respond to questions about how much Simmons was being paid, or whether his Instagram post breached the commercial deal.

Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings also refused to disclose how much Simmons was being paid but said, “it would be a very small proportion of his take-home pay.”

Simmons recently agreed to a five-year, US$170 million (A$242 million) contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, in the richest deal by an Australian athlete.

“What’s happening this week is probably counterintuitive in terms of our objectives of bringing people to Melbourne and our attractions. But we’re very proud of the work he does and our collaboration,” Mr Jennings said.

Adam Ferrier, consumer psychologist and founder of ad agency Thinkerbell, said Simmons’ deal with Visit Victoria could potentially be worth millions of dollars.

“Broadly speaking, the price range for getting someone influential can range from a thousand dollars for a post or Tweet to multi-million dollars for a broader endorsement deal.

“Where this deal lies on that spectrum would be impossible to say at this stage.”

With the NBA particularly influential in American culture, the positive impact of a deal with someone like Simmons could be worth “millions” to the state, he said.

While unwilling to comment specifically on Simmons’ Instagram post, Mr Ferrier said celebrities speaking their mind on social media was usually taken positively.

“People want to know how people feel about certain things. If a celebrity takes a stance on something it makes them feel like they know the celebrity a little more.”

Simmons withdrew from Australia’s World Cup campaign to focus on the upcoming NBA season, but trained with the side during their selection camp and wants to play at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, should the Boomers quality.

“Ben has made his statement on that and from my perspective I support Ben and his right to express how he feels on the situation,” Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said on Wednesday.

Simmons issued a follow-up statement on the matter on Tuesday night, saying he and his friends felt “personally singled out”.

“I am very passionate about equality and I will always speak up even if it means having uncomfortable conversations,” he said.

Chinese billionaire, Crown & NSW Labor

Chinese billionaire and Crown Casino high roller Huang Xiangmo’s relationship with former New South Wales Labor party boss Jamie Clements and ex-state MP Ernest Wong will be the focus of fresh corruption commission hearings next month.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will examine serious allegations of subversion of state election donation laws.

Also of “significant public interest” to the corruption watchdog is possible foreign influence on the New South Wales electoral process by Chinese business figures, some of whom are understood to have close ties with the Chinese government.

The report also reveals that Mr Huang is an $800 million per year Crown Casino high roller, and such a big punter that it used him as a case study of the benefits of uber-wealthy Chinese gamblers moving to live in Australia.

Leaked Crown documents that form part of an ongoing investigation can also reveal how Mr Huang dealt with powerful former Labor Party operatives working for Crown Casino, even after ASIO warned Labor and the Coalition about him in August, 2015.

Mr Huang was expelled from Australia by ASIO over his foreign influence activities.

As the fallout from this investigation continued, the federal government last Tuesday ordered a national integrity watchdog to examine a string of allegations about the conduct of Commonwealth officials linked to Crown’s operations.


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