In a significant development in the world of Asian gaming, the billionaire Cheng family from Hong Kong has officially taken over the management of the Hoiana casino resort in Vietnam. The resort, located near the vibrant Vietnamese port city of Da Nang, was formerly operated by the Suncity Group, a business empire led by the now-jailed Macau gambling tycoon, Alvin Chau.
A Lavish $4B Joint Project by Chow Tai Fook, LET Group, and VinaCapital
The Hoiana resort is a joint venture between Chow Tai Fook, LET Group, and investment management firm VinaCapital. Boasting an impressive array of amenities, the resort includes a sprawling casino with 140 gaming tables and over 350 gambling machines, a luxurious golf course, and opulent hotels carrying the renowned Cheng family brands, New World and Rosewood. Currently, additional facilities are under construction, bringing the total investment in the resort to an estimated $4 billion.
The Cheng family’s takeover of the Hoiana resort comes in the aftermath of Alvin Chau’s legal troubles, leading to his imprisonment in Macau. Chau, who previously ran Macau’s most prominent junket operator, spearheaded an immensely profitable industry that attracted affluent players from mainland China through the provision of private jets, lavish suites, and generous gambling credits. However, the entire sector faced a severe blow following Beijing’s stringent crackdown, citing concerns over capital outflows and potential money laundering.
Following Chau’s fall from grace, Suncity Group Holdings Ltd., the listed unit of his empire, underwent a transformation under the leadership of executive director Andrew Lo. Rebranded as LET Group, the company has since distanced itself from junket operations.
Hoiana Resort’s Management Shift Reflects a Growing Trend
The shift in management at the Hoiana resort aligns with a broader trend among Macau junket operators. Faced with stricter regulations and higher taxes on home soil, many of these operators are actively seeking opportunities in Southeast Asia, with Vietnam standing out as one of the most attractive destinations as reported by Bloomberg.
Vietnam offers more relaxed regulations and the opportunity to share VIP revenue with casinos, a model that was abandoned in Macau following China’s crackdown. Additionally, since Vietnamese law prohibits local residents from gambling in most facilities, casinos in the country heavily rely on high-rolling foreign players.
Vietnam’s tourism industry is also experiencing a post-pandemic boom, with visitor arrivals bouncing back to 66% of pre-pandemic levels in the first six months of the year. The country’s resilience in attracting tourists is particularly impressive, given that Chinese tourists, who previously comprised nearly one-third of Vietnam’s visitors, are yet to return en masse due to a shortage of international flights.
Beyond Vietnam, the Cheng family‘s foray into the international gaming scene has also extended to Australia, where they have become key investors in the Star Entertainment Group. Collaborating with another Hong Kong-based conglomerate, Far East Consortium International Ltd., they are jointly developing a formidable $3.6 billion gambling resort in Brisbane.