Stanley Ho, an iconic gambling tycoon and casino kingpin, has died at the age of 98. According to CNN, one of Ho's daughters — Pansy Ho — spoke with reporters outside of a Hong Kong hospital and confirmed the news. While no cause of death was given, Pansy stated that her father passed away in his sleep.
"We will all miss him," and respect "his legendary accomplishments and everything he has done in life for Hong Kong ... and Macao, and all his charitable donations," Pansy said. Born in Hong Kong in 1921, Ho grew up to be known as the "godfather of gambling" after turning the city of Macao into a major gambling center, eventually earning the city the title "Las Vegas of Asia." Notably, Macao — a former Portuguese colony — is the only place where casino gambling is permitted in China. Interestingly, Ho was once quoted as saying, "I know nothing of gambling. I still don't gamble." He added, "I got [into] this franchise because it was a challenge for me."
Ho managed Macao's only gambling concession for 40 years, helping lead the city to become a hotspot for gamblers all across the globe. He was in charge of the Sociedade de Jogos de Macao, a casino and hotel operator that is best known for its Grand Lisboa property in Macao. Ho was also an honorary chairman of Shun Tak Holdings, a Hong Kong conglomerate whose businesses cover everything from transportation to real estate and investments. Pansy now runs Shun Tak Holdings, as well as being a board member and part-owner of MGM China.
Ho's operations were the only gambling businesses in Macao until 2002, when the city opened up to foreign companies, such as Wynn and Sand, both United States-based businesses. Ho had other involvements, however, as over the course of his life he built a close relationship with Beijing, China. He would eventually serve on the country's foremost advisory board, China's Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Reportedly, Ho battled various health issues over the past 20 years. He suffered a fall in 2009 that led him to have brain surgery, which forced Ho to be less involved in his business. After that, his family got into a major battle over his wealth. Ho was known to be a polygamist, and had 17 children with four different women. His net worth was estimated at nearly $15 billion. Following two years of family fighting, Ho gave up almost all of his stake in his gambling empire and divided it up among his family.