Tributes pour in for colorful Casino King

Wednesday 27th May 2020

Tributes poured in after "Casino King" Stanley Ho Hungsun died at the age of 98 at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital yesterday.

Ho, Macau's richest man with a net worth of HK$70 billion, had been in the private hospital's intensive care unit since February after organ failure.

His condition deteriorated earlier this month.

His wives and children rushed to the hospital on Monday as he fought for his life, staying by his bedside overnight. He died at 1pm yesterday.

Twenty-four family members wearing black appeared outside the hospital in Happy Valley. Pansy Ho Chiu-king, the eldest daughter of Ho's second wife, said in Cantonese:

"With heavy hearts, we regretfully announce our father passed away peacefully at 1pm today."

She said family members have agreed to handle Ho's funeral together but details have yet to be discussed.

Angela Ho Chiu-yin , Ho's daughter with his first wife, said in English: "Although we knew this day would come, it does not lessen our sorrow. Our father will live in our hearts."

Ho will be buried at Chiu Yuen Cemetery on Mount Davis on Hong Kong Island west. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she was saddened by Ho's death and sent condolences to his family.

"Dr Ho was a successful entrepreneur who had founded business groups covering various areas. He played a significant role in Hong Kong and Macau," she said.

Lam said Ho, who was honored with the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010, actively took part in the development of community services in Hong Kong and offered great support to fund-raising by the Community Chest, local charities and tertiary education institutes.

Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, son of Ho's casino partner Henry Fok Ying-tung, said his father and Ho were close friends, not just business partners.

"My father was rather quiet and Ho got things done very quickly. They made perfect partners and Ho was incredibly humorous," Fok said, adding the two families will continue to join hands in operating casino businesses.

China Central Television called Ho a "renowned and patriotic businessman" as well as a significant figure in Macau. "He had actively participated in economic construction, cultural events and charity work on the mainland and made outstanding contributions to the development of Macau," it said.

Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-sing and former chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah also sent their condolences to Ho's family and complimented him for "making major contributions to Macau's prosperity and stability."

Prominent actor Andy Lau Tak-wah, who portrayed a casino operator in two movies titled Casino Tycoon inspired by Ho, also paid tribute, saying: "Dr Ho has made tremendous contributions to the society."

Born into the prestigious Ho Tung family in 1921, Stanley Ho was the grandson of Ho Tung's younger brother but he was plunged into poverty in secondary school when his father went bankrupt.

Ho studied at Queen's College in Tin Hau and was admitted to the science faculty of the University of Hong Kong. When World War ll broke out, he quit university before fleeing to Macau in 1941.

With only US$10 (HK$78) when he left for the then-Portuguese territory as a refugee, that trip sowed the seeds of his empire, earning his first HK$1 million two years later.

In 1961, Ho joined hands with Macau gambling icon Yip Hon, former racer Teddy Yip and Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok to snatch the gambling monopoly license in Macau for about HK$3 million.

The four started casino operator Tourism and Entertainment Company of Macau in 1962.

Ho expanded to other business areas and began offering ferry services between Hong Kong and Macau in 1964.

In 1969, he built Hotel Lisboa, with a casino, which has become a landmark in Macau.

In 1972, he established Shun Tak Holdings for his ferry, property, hotel and traveling businesses.

Ho was the only casino operator in Macau for decades and at his peak owned a dozen casinos and handed in casino tax amounting to half of the Macanese government's annual income. However, his monopoly ended when the government granted gambling licenses to other companies in 2002. Since then, Ho's business has faced competition from others.

Ho's casinos now hold 14 percent of the Macanese casino market and his three listed companies relating to his casino businesses - SJM Holdings, MGM China

Holdings and Melco International - have a total market value of HK$100 billion, not even half of the major rival Sands China's HK$234 billion.

Source

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