Hong Kong’s billionaire Cheng family reportedly taking control of Hoiana Casino Resort in Vietnam

Hong Kong’s billionaire Cheng family has assumed control of the Hoiana Casino Resort in Vietnam, formerly managed by jailed Macau junket boss Alvin Chau’s LET Group Holdings, according to insiders with knowledge of the matter.

LET Group Holdings, previously a part of Alvin Chau’s business empire Suncity Group, is no longer involved in the management of Hoiana, situated near Da Nang, a Vietnamese port city. The Cheng family’s flagship investment firm, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, has reportedly now taken over the resort’s operations, as per Bloomberg.

The Hoiana resort, a joint venture between Chow Tai Fook, LET Group, and investment management firm VinaCapital, boasts 140 gaming tables, over 350 gambling machines, a golf course, and luxury hotels operating under the Cheng family’s New World and Rosewood brands. Furthermore, additional facilities are under construction to complete the resort, with an estimated investment of approximately US$4 billion.

Chau’s Suncity Group was a key player in the Macau gaming industry, at one point the largest junket operator in the city. The company catered to high rollers from mainland China, offering exclusive privileges such as private jets, luxury suites, and gambling credits.

However, the industry faced a severe downturn after Beijing implemented stricter regulations amid concerns about capital outflows and potential money laundering. Chau’s legal troubles culminated in his arrest in November 2021 for conducting illegal gaming activities. In 2023, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison in Macau.

Former junket boss Alvin Chau

As a consequence of the situation, Suncity Group Holdings, the listed unit of Chau’s empire, underwent a leadership change, with executive director Andrew Lo taking control and renaming the company to LET Group. 

Chow Tai Fook’s move to take over Hoiana comes as several Macau junket operators seek new opportunities in Southeast Asia. Facing increased regulatory scrutiny and higher taxes at home, these operators view Vietnam as a promising market due to its more lenient regulations and the potential to share VIP revenue with casinos.

While this model was abandoned in Macau, following China’s crackdown on the gaming industry, it could blossom in Vietnam. There, local residents are barred from entering most gambling facilities, resulting in casinos relying heavily on international high-rolling gamblers.

In March, a notable Vietnamese junket operator, Let’s Win Group, held a grand opening event for its VIP club at Hoiana. The event attracted over 500 guests, including several high roller agents from Macau and their mainland Chinese clients, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Beyond Vietnam, Chow Tai Fook has been expanding its casino ventures globally. The conglomerate is a key investor in Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group. Together, they have been jointly developing a US$3.6 billion gambling resort in Brisbane in collaboration with another Hong Kong-based conglomerate, Far East Consortium International.