Beijing, May 26 (efe-epa).- Gambling mogul Stanley Ho, one of the richest men in Asia and the person considered to be responsible for Macau’s transformation into “Las Vegas of Asia”, died on Tuesday aged 98 at a Hong Kong Hospital, Macau’s public broadcaster reported.
Ho founded Shun Tak, a conglomerate with a market capitalization of around HK$8 billion ($1 billion) and was dedicated to gambling as well as other businesses such as real-estate, hotel and transport sector.
When he retired in 2018, his personal fortune was estimated to be around $6 billion, making him the one of the richest men in the Asian continent.
A good part of this fortune came from the gambling business, as, after creating the so-called Tourism and Entertainment Company of Macau in 1962 – owner of half of the casinos in the city, including Grand Lisboa – he dominated the industry until 2001.
According to official figures, more than 50 percent of the economic activity of the former Portuguese colony comes from businesses related to gambling, which is also the principal source of employment in the city – the only region of China where gambling is legal.
Ho’s impact on Macau’s transformation was more notable in the last few decades, something which the local authorities recognized and he became the first living person to have a street named after him.
He was last seen in public on Dec.20, when he attended the swearing-in ceremony of the Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On in Macau, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Macau and of its return to the control of China from the Portuguese colony.
According to an obituary published by Macau’s public broadcaster TDM, in the 90s he was known as the real king of Macau because of his influence on the economy and the society of the region, which many consider to be more than that of the governor.
Ho was a member of the committee which drafted Basic Law – the Hong Kong Magna Carta – and also was involved in works related to dredging of canals of the city and construction of the international airport.
However, in the later part of his life he was involved in several controversies due to family feud – he had 17 children with four women – over property rights.
He had to go through a brain surgery following an accident at home in 2009 and his public appearances since then became lesser.
Apart from maintaining good relations with the Portuguese colonial authorities – he also owned several casinos in Portugal – Ho was also member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. EFE-EPA