The Hong Kong-Macau magnate Stanley Ho has died at the age of 98, his daughter Pansy has confirmed. The long-reigning “king of gambling” made billions transforming the former Portuguese territory into a casino hub that would eventually eclipse Las Vegas in revenue.
Ho’s health issues have been widely documented—in recent years, he reportedly suffered Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure and a stroke. On Monday, local press reported that Ho was in poor health at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, where he died the following day.
The Hong Kong-born businessman was famed for his extensive family tree: he had 17 children with four women, all of whom he referred to as his wives. The South China Morning Post reports he leaves behind three of his four wives—among them his partner of more than three decades, Angela Leong—and 15 surviving children, including Pansy Ho, Lawrence Ho, Daisy Ho, Josie Ho and Laurinda Ho.
As well as his corporation SJM Holdings, which owns 20 casino properties in Macau, including the Grand Lisboa, Ho was also the founder and chairman of shipping, property and hospitality conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings, which operates the Hong Kong-Macau Turbojet ferry fleet.
Ho retired as chairman of SJM in 2018 after nearly 75 years in business. His daughter, Daisy succeeded him in his role. From 2010, he began devolving his financial assets between his “wives” and children, with Pansy, Ho’s eldest daughter with Lucina Lam, emerging as his heir-apparent through assuming the role of managing director of various companies he founded, including Shun Tak.
Ho amassed a personal wealth of billions of US dollars and was a dedicated philanthropist, donating large sums to institutions such as the University of Hong Kong and Po Leung Kuk, a Hong Kong charity that supports orphaned children. He held an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Great Cross of the Order of Prince Henrique, an order of knighthood in Portugal, for his contributions to both Hong Kong and Macanese society.
As news of Ho’s death broke on Tuesday, business leaders across Asia paid tribute to one of the region’s most noted tycoons. “It’s the end of an era,” Allan Zeman, the Hong Kong businessman and non-executive chairman of hotel and casino Wynn Macau, said to the SCMP. Zeman added that Ho was “a very important part of Hong Kong”. Meanwhile, Stewart Leung Chi-kin, chairman of the Real Estate Developers Association (Reda), praised Ho’s loyalty to investing in Hong Kong real estate. “It is a great loss for Hong Kong,” Leung said.
Born in 1921 into a wealthy family of Dutch-Jewish ancestry, Ho first traded goods across the China-Macau border, before incorporating kerosene and construction into his interests. However, his masterstroke was winning a gaming monopoly license in Macau in 1961. Ho was a noted lover of ballroom dancing, horse racing and tennis, and carried the Olympic torch ahead of the 2008 Beijing Games.