No one lives forever and sometimes, it’s the legacy and memories we leave behind that matters the most.
And one man, known as the ‘Gambling King’, certainly has had a lot to leave behind.
At age 98, Stanley Ho, the owner of the largest gambling hub in the world, passed away on 26 May 2020.
He is survived by 17 children, whom he has had among four wives.
Every End Had A Beginning
But of course, not everyone starts out a billionaire.
Born on Nov 25, 1921, Dr Ho’s rich father had gone bankrupt. This was only made worse when two of his brothers committed suicide.
After realising that education could help gain back their lost riches, his hard work saw him receive a scholarship to the University of Hong Kong.
However, Dr Ho was forced to flee Macau during the advent of World War II
Ironically, the war was where he began to slowly build his wealth. He did so by smuggling luxury goods from China into Macau.
Into The Modern Day
With the money amassed, Dr Ho quickly went to work
The small fortune allowed him to start a construction and kerosene company.
Soon, along with several partners, including Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok, Dr Ho made a pitch to the Portuguese government to enter the gambling industry in Macau.
The pitch worked and in 1961, the group obtained the gambling monopoly license.
Their company, called Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, S.A.R.L. (STDM), held this monopoly for over 50 years until 2002, where other companies were issued gaming licenses as well.
Despite this, Dr Ho’s competitive nature allowed his gaming business to further accelerate, propelling Macau into the world’s biggest gaming hub.
He eventually branched out into other business ventures. Some of these include hotels, banking, air transport and entertainment.
In 2012, a legal battle regarding his fortune caused him to restructure his entire business.
However, likely due to age, Do Ho would eventually step down from his flagship casino empire, SJM Holdings, on 12 June 2018.
As of today, SJM Holdings is valued around S$8.5 billion.
Impact Of Retirement and Departure
Being such a big figure in the gaming world, and Macau as a whole, Dr Ho has left many an impression on those who’ve met him.
Stewart Leung Chi-kin, chairman of the Real Estate Developers Association (Reda), said that Dr Ho “contributed a lot to the real estate industry during his tenure at Reda”.
“He never retreated even when he faced pressure from the government. He put Hong Kong’s interest as his top priority.”
Allan Zeman, the non-executive chairman of Wynn Macau, one of the territory’s six gambling concessionaires, has also mentioned that Dr Ho was an “important part of Hong Kong” and changed the gaming industry for many years.
Some of his children are now major players in the company, as well.
After retiring in 2018, Daisy Ho, his daughter, became chairman and executive director.
Angela Leong, Ho’s fourth wife, became co-chair with another executive director. She is also SJM’s second-largest shareholder.
However, every coin has a flip side.
In January 2019, Pansy Ho, his eldest daughter with his second wife, had an alliance with other siblings that holds sway over a controlling stake in SJM,
This gave her an advantage over Ms Leong in the fight of Dr Ho’s massive empire.
Dr Ho will be remembered for many decades to come, especially for his influence and impact he has had on Macau.
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