October 24, 2021

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Stanley Ho, who built Macau’s gambling industry, dies at 98

Stanley Ho, the Macau on line casino tycoon who was thought-about the daddy of recent playing in China, died Tuesday in Hong Kong, his daughter Pansy Ho mentioned. He was 98.

Often called the “King of Gambling,” the dashing billionaire and bon vivant secured a four-decade monopoly on casinos in Macau, then parlayed his dwelling benefit to construct the empire that also dominated the trade after it opened to overseas corporations in 2002.

He was the previous Portuguese colony’s richest individual, a lavish spender and completed ballroom dancer who wielded nice affect each in Macau and in neighbouring Hong Kong whereas — in response to U.S. authorities — sustaining ties to organized crime.

A household assertion mentioned he died peacefully in his sleep, however didn’t give a explanation for demise.

Ho’s daughter Pansy Ho, centre, speaks to the press with Ho’s relations outdoors a hospital in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (Kin Cheung/The Related Press)

Tall, good-looking and of blended Chinese language and European heritage, Ho fathered 17 kids with 4 ladies. His prolonged household erupted in high-profile squabbles over his empire throughout his later years.

Ho himself averted the gaming flooring.

“I don’t gamble at all. I don’t have the patience,” Ho informed The Related Press in a uncommon interview in 2001. “Don’t expect to make money in gambling. It’s a house game. It’s for the house.”

Various enterprise holdings

He additionally had stakes in companies that run every thing from the ferries and helicopters connecting Hong Kong and Macau, to malls, motels, Macau’s airport and its horse-racing tracks.

In 2009, Ho underwent mind surgical procedure after he reportedly fell at dwelling and hit his head. He left the hospital after seven months and was hardly ever seen in public afterward, normally in a wheelchair.

His weakened situation could have set the stage for a really public household feud that erupted in 2011 over management of Macau on line casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd.

Ho, centre, his daughter Pansy, left, and his spouse Angela Leong, proper, attend the opening ceremony of the Louis Vuitton: A Ardour for Creation exhibition in Hong Kong in Might 2009. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Ho disputed a supposed switch of his whole multibillion-dollar stake to 5 of his kids and one among his wives, calling it a “robbery” that went in opposition to his want to divide the fortune equally amongst varied branches of his household.

The dispute finally was settled after a number of lawsuits, and Ho transferred most of his SJM shares to relations whereas formally remaining chairman till he retired at age 96. He had left the identical job at his Hong Kong conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings a yr earlier.

Fled Hong Kong for Macau throughout struggle

Ho’s lengthy and eventful life tracked the ebb and circulate of southern China’s fortunes.

He was born on Nov. 25, 1921 into the Hotung household, on the time one among Hong Kong’s wealthiest and strongest. When he was 13, his father deserted the household after being worn out by a inventory market crash through the Nice Melancholy.

Ho attended Hong Kong College however did not graduate due to the Second World Warfare. Fluent in English and Chinese language, he was working as a phone operator for British forces when the colony fell to Japan. He boarded a ship for impartial Macau, becoming a member of refugees from mainland China within the dying fishing port.

“I had to throw away my uniform and run to Macau as a refugee,” Ho mentioned within the 2001 interview.

Through the struggle, he earned cash working nighttime smuggling and buying and selling journeys up the Pearl River Delta, surviving a pirate assault on one event.

“Macau treated me so well. I went there with 10 dollars in my pocket and became a millionaire before the age of 20,” Ho mentioned.

Ho, centre, along with his third spouse, Ina Chan, proper, and their daughter Florinda, left, pose for the media throughout a tv interview at Chan’s dwelling in Hong Kong in January 2011. (Tai Kung Pao, Lam Yu San/Pool/The Related Press)

In 1948, Ho married Clementina Leitao, the daughter of a distinguished lawyer in Macau who had connections to Portugal and to Macau excessive society. These ties and Ho’s efforts to curry favour with Macau authorities are mentioned to have helped him and his enterprise companions win the on line casino monopoly when it got here up for bidding in 1962. About the identical time, Ho married Lucina Laam beneath a Qing dynasty code permitting males to take a number of wives. Hong Kong outlawed the apply in 1971.

Ho fathered kids with two different ladies, Ina Chan and Angela Leong, whom he known as his “wives,” although he was not legally married to both. Ho reportedly met Chan, a nurse, when she was employed to look after an ailing Leitao, who died in 2004.

By way of his love of the tango and the cha-cha, Ho met Leong, a educated dancer and former ballroom dancing teacher.

Allegations of organized crime hyperlinks

After Portugal transferred Macau to China in 1999, the federal government broke up Ho’s on line casino monopoly in 2002, permitting in overseas rivals together with Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts Worldwide. The ensuing constructing increase remodeled the sleepy, seedy and corrupt former colonial outpost right into a glitzy playing powerhouse fuelled by high-rolling mainland Chinese language.

The brand new gamers introduced slick choices to compete on the planet’s most profitable playing market with SJM’s practically two dozen no-frills casinos — the corporate did not construct its personal lavish megaresort till years later.

Allegations of organized crime dogged Ho for years, most not too long ago in a 2010 report by the New Jersey gaming fee that accused him of letting Chinese language prison gangs, or triads, prosper inside his casinos through the 1990s. He dismissed such allegations.

Ho was identified to spend lavishly. In 2007, he paid $8.9 million US for a bronze horse head taken by French troops 150 years in the past from China’s imperial palace so he might donate it to a Chinese language museum. He additionally twice bid a report $330,000 US for truffles at charity auctions.

Ho is survived by three of his wives and 16 kids. His eldest son, Robert, was killed in a automotive crash in Portugal in 1981.

On this undated picture, Ho seems to be out from the Macau Ferry Terminal with the most recent in a fleet of Jetfoils from his Hong Kong flagship firm, Shun Tak Holdings Ltd., within the background. (Reuters)

A number of of Ho’s kids are concerned within the household enterprise. Daughter Pansy is co-chair of rival MGM’s Macau on line casino enterprise, whereas son Lawrence runs one other competitor, Melco. One other daughter, Josie, is an actress and singer who had a task within the 2011 Steven Soderbergh movie Contagion.

Again in 1962, when Ho acquired the playing monopoly, the tiny Portuguese enclave west of Hong Kong was a decaying backwater deluged with refugees.

“In those days, the Portuguese said Stanley Ho was a dreamer. I have fulfilled all my promises,” Ho mentioned in 2001. “I feel rather proud in having succeeded.”

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