Obituary: Casino Tycoon Stanley Ho Dies Aged 98

Stanley Ho was the godfather and king of the Macau gambling industry, passing away at the age of 98 he leaves behind an epic legacy as a pioneer and entrepreneur. The casino tycoon was known for his resilience in the face of adversity, cunning business nature and his ability to bring parties together through his talent for deal-making.

Macau bay skyline.

Macau’s skyline was transformed as the wealth of Stanley Ho increased, his influence and contributions to the city have defined his legacy and his death is being widely mourned throughout China. ©jw232523/Pixabay

Stanley Ho built his business empire throughout the entire Asian peninsula, but it was on the mainland of China where his status was most celebrated. Here he was hailed as the “patriotic entrepreneur”, and became a prominent figure in Chinese business discourse. Unlike many of his billionaire partners and counterparts, Stanley Ho was often in the public eye, with the good, bad, and the ugly on full show for the world to see.

The Ho family was a rich family from Hong Kong, and in his early days Stanley fled to Macau when the Japanese invaded in 1941 during the turmoil of World War Two. Here he became a trader in the former Portuguese economy, quickly making a name for himself and building a reputation as a reliable broker for hard-to-find goods. Whilst this early venture paid Stanley millions of dollars, it would be his capture of the Macau gaming license and the subsequent monopoly he was able to establish that earned him the enormous wealth.

His business empire quickly grew, and included luxury hotels, helicopters, yachts, real estate, and various other ventures. Throughout the early 2000’s Stanley Ho oversaw the transformation of Macau into the gambling city of the world, which in 2006 was considered to be beating Las Vegas in terms of gross revenue at its casinos.

By this time Stanley Ho was head of one of the world’s most lucrative gaming businesses, with his firm SJM Holdings valued at $6bn. The billionaire who was recognized and known for his flamboyancy, would often dance on stage at private parties and often visited the casino floor of his prize real-estate to meet patrons and guests.

My father has passed away peacefully just now at around 1 pm at Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital. As Stanley Ho’s family member, we are really sad to inform you of this.Pansy Ho, Daughter of Stanley Ho, SJM Holdings

After receiving the government monopoly license in the 1960s, Stanley Ho was able to unleash the full might of his entrepreneurial ambition. His projects included a major re-structuring of casino licensing laws in Asia, the establishment of a casino in many different territories including Portugal and North Korea.

By the time he had retired last year at the age of 97, his wealth was estimated to be at a massive $6.4bn. Stanley Ho could look back fondly at a career which saw him drastically alter the status quo of Chinese gambling, flooding the nation’s economy with external wealth and instilling a love for gambling culture.

Stanley leaves behind 20 Macau casinos. Also, he had four wives and 17 known children. One of his offspring is carrying on his father’s legacy in gambling, Lawrence Ho the CEO of Melco, the ultra-successful tycoon educated at the University of Toronto was a high-flying financial analyst before turning gambling CEO. Under the guidance of Lawrence Ho, Melco Resorts is leading the charge for a series of lucrative contracts across Japan and forming alliances with some of the world’s most powerful gambling enterprises.

Death of a Legend

It is very difficult to put into words the extent of Stanley Ho’s power in Macau and Hong Kong, and his influence in these two cities is impossible to overestimate. He had a tremendous network of connections, and friends in the highest reaches of government. Chinese media mourns Stanley Ho as a patriot and innovator.

Stanley Ho transformed the global reach of Macau from a small enclave, with fishing as its primary industry, into a globalized gambling mecca. The small port city was transformed over just a couple of decades with enormous skyscrapers, glass buildings, and luxury casinos stretching the entire coastline. As the wealth of Stanley Ho grew, so too did that of the city and its outside connections with the world.

Stanley Ho was able to quickly consolidate his power and influence by expanding into a wide variety of industries and public services for the local population. His helicopters and boats were the quickest way to travel between Hong Kong and Macau. As the cities fortunes rapidly increased, so too did the presence of western commerce, in particular the influx of Las Vegas giants establishing their own operations in the region to compete against Stanley Ho. The jewel in the crown of his early mega-real-estate projects was the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, a project that truly connected Macau with the global economy.

Ho leaves behind a fantastic legacy, and some sensational tales of how he transformed Macau into a prospering cosmopolitan city and established his family as one of the most influential in the Pearl River Delta. His life was not always without controversy, but in the end the masses admired him for his rags to riches persona and his benevolence for people struggling in life.

So the “King of Macau” is dead, but his legacy lives on throughout the casinos of Macau as people chase their own form of financial success.

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