The name is familiar to many, especially those in the gambling world. However, the story of how this man and his family came to be the most prominent figures in the Asian gambling industry is less well-known.
This short bio will give you the rundown on how this man built an empire during his life, which came with its fair share of controversy along the way.
Stanley Ho was born Ho Hung Sun on November 25, 1921. He was born into a very wealthy and influential family in British Hong Kong, with 8 older siblings before him (and more to come after him). However, that wealth was short-lived; his father went bankrupt while Ho was young. To make matters even worse, two of his brothers committed suicide. There was clearly a lot of trauma for the young Ho to deal with.
Ho was very bright; he received a scholarship from the University of Hong Kong, where he attended but never had the chance to finish his degree.
The family had to flee Hong Kong to Macau during World War II when the Japanese invaded; he never completed the degree, but as you can imagine,
His fortune didn’t originally come from gambling. He started working at an import-export business in Macau and made his first riches by smuggling goods into mainland China from the province of Macau. Subsequently, he started a kerosene company along with a construction business in an effort to establish himself as a legitimate businessman.
The turning point for Ho’s career came in 1982. At that time, there was no gambling on Macau, but that was about to change; the province was about to award a gambling monopoly, and Ho wanted in.
He and his partners Yip Hon, Teddy Yip, and Henry Fok put together a lavish bid for the licenses, promising not only gambling revenue but also to build better infrastructure in the area in order to improve Macau as a tourist destination.
The group controlled all the gaming in Macau for almost thirty years until another license was awarded in 2001. You can imagine how much money the group made; they still own 19 different casinos in Macau.
Unlike his partners, Ho was not satisfied with just the casino revenue; he wanted to build a diverse empire.
That led to his parlaying the profits from the gambling venture into other investments. He invested in banks, entertainment companies, hotels, and airlines, giving him a diverse portfolio.
He also wanted to invest outside of Macau, so he took his money and spread it across the globe into many different investments.
This includes having projects in Canada, East Timor, Mozambique, Vietnam, Portugal, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The one-time smuggler was now amassing a global group of companies under his name.
So, this is where the story of Stanley Ho gets very interesting. As it turns out, the man continued to subscribe to the idea of polygamy well after it was outlawed in China.
The end result is that there are four women who Ho has called his “wife”. We are not sure if any of them are legally married, but as you will see, this will become important later in Ho’s life.
Along with these four wives come a staggering 17 children. Here is how that all breaks down, with the eldest born in 1947 and the youngest in 1999:
In 2009, Ho had a serious accident in which he fell and suffered significant head trauma. He required brain surgery and needed to stay in the hospital for seven months.
That set off serious drama in the family, trying to determine who controlled the business and the fortune in his absence. As he had no actual will to speak of, the battle for control got ugly, taking over two years to settle.
Now, it all seems to be clear how the companies and money are split up between the family members.
Even though he came back to relatively good health after the fall, Ho was advancing in age, and finally removed himself from the day-to-day activity of running his businesses.
He is rarely seen in public anymore.