Macau’s ‘King of Gambling’ Stanley Ho dies at 98

Stanley Ho poses for the camera. Photo: Apple Daily
Stanley Ho poses for the camera. Photo: Apple Daily

Stanley Ho, one of Asia’s richest men and patriarch of Macau’s multi-billion casino empire, has passed away at the age of 98.

His daughter, Pansy Ho, addressed reporters outside Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital on Tuesday.

“My father passed away peacefully just now at around 1pm at Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital,” Ho’s daughter Pansy, co-chairperson and executive director of Hong Kong-listed MGM China Holdings Ltd, said. “Dr. Ho was an influential and virtuous man… even though we knew this day would come, it doesn’t lessen our sorrow.”

The tycoon—who had a colorful love life—leaves behind 16 of the 17 children he had with four women.

Ho is credited with turning the former Portuguese colony into the gambling hub it is today. According to the South China Morning Post, Ho’s personal fortune was estimated at HK$50 billion (US$6.4 billion) when he retired in 2018.

Ho founded SJM Holdings in the early 1960s, a tourism and hospitality company that went on to dominate Macau’s gambling hub. His entrepreneurship spurred Macau into the world’s biggest casino center, surpassing the Las Vegas strip and earning him the nickname “Las Vegas of Asia.”

While the company no longer holds a monopoly in the gaming industry, it still owns 22 of Macau’s 41 casinos. (Gaming-related taxes accounted for more than 85% of government tax revenue last year.)

Ho largely withdrew from business a decade ago after surgery following a serious head injury at home in 2009 left him in intensive care. According to The Standard, his last public appearance was in December 2009, when he returned to Macau for a ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of the SAR’s handover.

Known also for his philanthropy, Ho is the benefactor of a dozen museums, hospitals, sports centres and schools across Hong Kong and Macau.

Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong group called Ho’s death the “end of an era,” according to SCMP. Ho had a charming personality and was a “very kind and passionate person,” he said.

“One thing I still remember is that he loved to dance,” Zeman added. At many balls, he and his wife were always out there on the dance floor, no matter what age he was at.”

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