With an approximate net worth of 3.1 billion US dollars, Stanley Ho has retired as the chairman of Shun Tak Holdings. This follows his unstable health condition, stroke and brain surgery in 2009. He was born in Hong Kong in 1921 but fled to Macau with his family in 1942. This was caused by the Second World War when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. The war caused him to drop out of the University of Hong Kong. After moving to Macau, he started a few business ventures, including smuggling luxury goods from China during the war. This made him his first fortunes. The breakthrough, however, came when he and some partners won the monopoly status for Macau’s gaming franchises. They prevailed against the long-standing domination of the Fu family.
Ho is the founder of a string of companies, including SJM holdings. He is recognized for converting Macau into the gambling epicentre that it is today. He has held the government-supported gambling monopoly for 40 years until foreign competition was allowed in 2002. Ho owns eight casinos in Macau and employs roughly 25% of the workforce in the city thanks to his numerous companies.
He announced his retirement in April 2018 and named his 54-year-old daughter, Daisy Ho, as his successor. This follows some major family squabbles between him and his second and third family. The 94-year-old business tycoon ended this dynastic war for the reins of his empire by filing charges for wrongful changes in share structure. The lawsuit was against 11 of his family members including his daughters, Daisy and Pansy Ho, and son Lawrence. He later dropped the charges after much persuasion.
He is also credited with many philanthropic acts, including being a major supporter and investor in Macau’s world of dance. He is a patron at the Hong Kong Ballet and the International Dance Teachers Association. In spite of this, Ho, (and by extension, his daughter Pansy) has been accused of being involved with organized crime. Despite the lack of solid evidence, it is rumoured that he finances the Chinese triad, Kung Lok. He has since denied such allegations, saying that he may know the triad but is in no way involved with them.
Stanley Ho owns almost all of the highest-flying casinos in Macau. It is therefore no surprise people refer to him as the “King of Gambling”. His casinos bring in a staggering 80% of Macau’s income. This, however, may drop drastically if his businesses fail to adopt the ever-changing advancement in technology, seeing as online casinos are the next big thing.
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