HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s billionaire Cheng family has taken control of a casino resort in Vietnam from a former company owned by Macau gambling kingpin Alvin Chau, according to people familiar with the matter.
LET Group Holdings, formerly part of the Chau Suncity Group business, has withdrawn its involvement in the management of the Hoiana resort near the Vietnamese port of Da Nang, with the Cheng family’s trading company Cheng Chow Tai Fook Enterprises now managing the resort’s operations, the people said, asking not to be identified to discuss confidentiality.
The Hoiana resort, a joint venture between Chow Tai Fook, LET Group and investment management company VinaCapital, has a casino with 140 gaming tables and more than 350 slot machines, a golf course and luxury hotels under the Cheng family’s New World and Rosewood brands. Another facility is being built to complete the facility, at a cost of about US$4 billion (S$5.3 billion).
Chau’s group ran Macau’s biggest junket industry, leading a lucrative industry that lured high rollers from China with private jets, luxury suites and a history of gambling. The sector was hit hard after Beijing’s turmoil over concerns about the economy and spending spree.
Chau was arrested in November 2021 for illegal gambling and was sentenced to 18 years in prison in Macau earlier this year. The listed group Suncity Group Holdings – which does not run junket businesses – was taken over by managing director Andrew Lo last year and renamed LET Group.
Chow Tai Fook Hoiana’s takeover comes as many of Macau’s junket operators, faced with strict regulations and high taxes at home, are turning to Southeast Asia for business.
Vietnam is one of the leading destinations because of its liberal laws and the prospect of sharing VIP revenue with casinos – a model that Macau scrapped after China’s crackdown. The country’s gambling scene is also heavily dependent on overseas gamblers as Vietnam prohibits local citizens from entering many gambling establishments.
In March, major Vietnamese junket group Let’s Win Group held a grand opening party in Hoiana for its VIP club, attracting more than 500 guests including many sponsors from Macau and their Chinese clients, according to people familiar with the matter.
Chow Tai Fook’s foray into casinos outside of China also saw him become a major investor in Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group. Together, they have been developing a US$3.6 billion casino in Brisbane with a Hong Kong-based group, Far East Consortium International. MOUNT BLOOM