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Vietnam's Hoiana Casino Strips Ties to Convict Alvin Chau

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Henry Cheng, a wealthy tycoon from Hong Kong and leader of a family long involved in a number of enterprises, has acquired ownership of a Vietnamese casino, deliberately excluding his former partner from the venture. Out of the picture now is LET Group Holdings, previously owned by the renowned Macau gambling mogul Alvin Chau, imprisoned for money laundering and other criminal activity.

Let Lets Go

This decision marks the separation of LET Group Holdings, an integral part of the once-flourishing Suncity Group empire, from the ongoing progress of Hoiana near the port city of Da Nang. Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, the prominent investment firm owned by the Cheng family, has taken complete control of the casino, according to sources.

The Hoiana Resort is a collaborative effort between LET Group, Chow Tai Fook and VinaCapital investment management company. The property features a lavish casino boasting 140 gaming tables and over 350 slot machines. Moreover, it has a golf course and hotels, also run by the Cheng family empire.

There are plans underway to construct more amenities in order to finalize the park's development. This endeavor is anticipated to receive an investment of approximately $4 billion; however, the completion date of the expansion has not been revealed.

Chow Tai Fook has a solid and strong foundation in China and has expanded its business ventures into the international casino industry. Notably, it's an investor in a Star Entertainment Group casino resort project being constructed in Australia. Alongside their Hong Kong-based partner, Far East Consortium International, they have collaborated to develop a casino complex in Brisbane worth $3.6 billion.

Downfall of an Empire

For years, Chau's organization was at the forefront of Macau's most significant gambling tourism industry, using junkets to entice high-stakes players from mainland China by offering exclusive aircraft transportation, opulent residences and generous betting credits. However, the company's downfall occurred when China's government, amid increased apprehensions related to capital offenses and illegal money transactions, decided to shut it down.

In November 2021, Chau was arrested due to his involvement in what China deemed illicit gambling activities. That led to changes at Suncity Group Holdings, devoid of any junket operations, as CEO Andrew Lo took charge and rechristened it as LET Group in 2022. Subsequently, earlier this year, a court in Macau handed down an 18-year imprisonment sentence against him.

With the tightening regulations and increased taxes in their homeland, numerous tourism operators in Macau are now turning their attention towards Southeast Asia for business opportunities. This shift in focus coincides with Chow Tai Fook's acquisition of Hoiana.

It is also part of a larger shift that analysts believe will see Macau continue to lose its status as the region's primary gaming hub. That title could eventually go to Singapore or Japan.

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