Gambling tycoon Stanley Ho’s funeral held

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Gambling tycoon Stanley Ho’s funeral held

High-profile Hong Kong officials and business people have paid their respects to Macau gambling king Stanley Ho following his death in May.

Victor Harbor Times reports that Mr Ho, who built a business empire from scratch in the former Portuguese colony and became one of Asia’s richest men, died on May 26, aged 98.

Mr Ho presided over the transformation of once-sleepy Macau into the world’s biggest casino centre, outpacing the United States’ Las Vegas Strip.

Shielded from challengers by a four-decade monopoly on gambling, Mr Ho grew his operations into one of the world’s most lucrative gaming businesses through his flagship firm SJM Holdings, valued at about US$6 billion.

His privately held company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, or STDM, has stakes in everything from luxury hotels to helicopters and horse racing.

At Mr Ho’s one-hour funeral ceremony on Friday, black-suited guests, including many local tycoons, donned face masks.

Among Mr Ho’s pallbearers were Hong Kong’s top leader, Carrie Lam, and senior members of China’s top political consultative body, former Macau leader Edmund Ho and Hong Kong CEO Tung Chee-hwa.

White flower wreaths from well-wishers filled the funeral parlour, including condolences from Chinese President Xi Jinping, the South China Morning Post reported.

Mr Ho’s death comes as Macau faces a critical juncture, with officials warning that the special administrative region is too dependent on gambling, and faces acute challenges as it reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Succession plans for Mr Ho, who had four wives and 17 known children, had been in place since 2012, when he was forced to restructure his business after a legal battle within the family over his fortune.

His family remains a huge part of Macau’s gaming industry.

His daughter Daisy is chairwoman of SJM, while his fourth wife, Angela Leong, is a co-chair.

His daughter Pansy is co-chair of MGM Resorts Macau unit, while his son Lawrence runs Melco Resorts and Entertainment.

Gambling tycoon Stanley Ho dies

The king of Macau’s gaming scene, Stanley Ho, has died at the age of 98.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that the flamboyant gambling tycoon, whose alleged association with the gambling industry’s seedy underbelly caused major headaches for Australia’s Crown Resorts recently died peacefully in his sleep, according to a family statement.

The entrepreneur headed one of the world’s most lucrative gaming businesses through his flagship firm, SJM Holdings Ltd, valued at A$9 billion.

Born in Hong Kong of mixed Chinese and European heritage, Mr Ho fathered 17 children with four women, an extended family that engaged in high-profile squabbled over his legacy during his later years.

Despite being one of Asia’s richest men, he avoided the gambling floor.

“I don’t gamble at all. I don’t have the patience,” Mr Ho told The Associated Press in 2001.

“Don’t expect to make money in gambling. It’s a house game. It’s for the house.”

Long-standing allegations of Mr Ho’s connections to organised crime trailed his family all the way to Sydney.

Last year, the New South Wales gaming authority launched an unprecedented public inquiry into his son, Lawrence Ho’s, purchase of a 19.8 per cent stake in Crown Resorts from James Packer last year.

Mr Ho denied the allegations.

Crown’s licence for its casino under construction at Barangaroo explicitly forbids Stanley Ho and a list of associated individuals and entities from any involvement in the casino.

The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority was preparing to dig through the inner workings of Lawrence’s casino company Melco Resorts before the inquiry was indefinitely delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melco sold all of its shares in Crown four weeks ago, saying it needed to focus on its Asian casinos which had been shut by the pandemic.

ILGA said at the time it was considering whether it would have to reconsider the terms of its inquiry after Melco’s exit.

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