Stanley Ho

Stanley Ho is a famous entrepreneur in Hong Kong and Macau.Ho is the wealthiest person in Macau, and one of the wealthiest in Asia.He ranked 303rd among the world's richest people in 2003. He owns many properties in both Hong Kong and Macau and has taken part in many kinds of business including entertainment, tourism, shipping, real estate, banking, air transport. His holdings are estimated at US$1.1 billion, and his net worth is $1.4 billion as of 2003.

As for his businesses:

  • their incomes constitute about one-third of the gross domestic product of Macau;
  • in 2003, taxes on them accounted for about 30% of the Macau government's revenue;
  • they are collectively the largest corporate employer in Macau, with more than 10 thousand employees.

Ho is sometimes nicknamed "The King of Gambling", reflecting his control of the gambling industry in Macau for over 35 years, and his ownership of 8 casinos, with Casino Lisboa being Macau's most famous casino. Despite his age, he remains active as of 2004 in social activities such as charity events. Apart from Hong Kong and Macau, he has also invested in North Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. 30 years ago, Ho used to own 9 casinos in Philippines, but due to conflict with the president, he ceased all business activity in the country.

Ho is also a famous industrialist and entrepreneur in Asia, and he held a number of important positions in many firms in Hong Kong and Macau. His opinions and statements on Hong Kong's estate and commercial development have considerable sway on the market.

Current Positions


  • Chairman of the Shun Tak Group.
  • Director of Shun Tak Shipping Company, Limited.
  • Chairman of the publicly-listed Melco International Development Limited.
  • Chairman of iAsia Technology Limited.


  • President of Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong.
  • Chairman of broad of directors of the University of Hong Kong Foundation for Educational Development and Research.
  • Member of the Court and Council of the University of Hong Kong.
  • Member of the Court of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
  • Member of the board of trustees of the Better Hong Kong Foundation.
  • Patron of the Society of the Academy for Performing Arts.
  • Vice-president of the Association of Benefactors of Kiang Wu Hospital in Macau.
  • Trustee of the Foundation for the Co-operation and development of Macau.
  • Member of the Council of the University of Macau.


  • Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
  • Member of the Selection Committee for the first Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
  • Member of the Consultative Committee for the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR.

Early Life

There is no doubt that Ho was highborn. He was born into the great Ho Tung family, one of the most well-known, powerful and influential clans in Hong Kong at the time. His great-grandfather was British, who married a woman from Guangdong. Their eldest son was Ho Tung (Sir Robert Hotung) and the next was Ho Fook, Stanley Ho's grandfather. Ho Sai Kwong, one of Ho Fook's sons, had 13 children. Stanley Ho is the 9th child.

Although his family was very wealthy, he started his business on his own. When he was 13 years old, his father lost a lot of money in the stock market crash and was bankrupted. As a result, Ho's two elder brothers committed suicide and his father abandoned the family, leaving him with his two elder sisters and his mother.

Once he went to see a dentist who was a relative of Ho's. The dentist knew he had no money and said something that embarrassed him. He ran home and cried. He swore to his mother: "I must become a successful man. Let those relatives who only talk about money know, I will earn a lot of money in 10 years".


Ho studied in Queen's College, Hong Kong. At the time he entered the College, it was considered one of the best secondary schools in Hong Kong at the time. Nevertheless, his academic results were unsatisfactory. He attended Class D, an indication of his poor results. However, after his father went bankrupt, he realised that studying hard would improve his social status. Eventually, with his much-improved academic performance, he earned a scholarship to the University of Hong Kong. He became the first student studying in Class D to be granted a university scholarship.

While at the University of Hong Kong, he lived in Ricci Hall and was an active hall member. In addition to his major subject, he also became fluent in English, Japanese and Portuguese. He gained knowledge in business as well, which was helpful to his later career.

Career path

Ho began clerical work at a Japanese-owned import-export firm in Macau. Then in 1941, his family lost its fortunes while Hong Kong was invaded by the Japanese, and Ho moved to Macau to work in a trading company. With his talents and command of 4 languages, he won the trust of his employers and quickly became a partner of the firm, at the age of 21. Once, he was in charge of a trade at sea, when the ship was attacked by thieves who were armed with guns. He was holding 300 thousand dollars, the equivalent of several million today. His partners were shot and he quickly laid down. When the thieves saw the money, they rushed towards it. Ho then took the gun, gained control of the ship, and drove it back. The incident established his reputation as a trustworthy partner, and led to great success in subsequent sea tradings. Because of his outstanding performance, he was given 1 million as a bonus. In 1943, he used the bonus dividend of 1 million dollars to invest in Hong Kong. He set up a kerosene company and established a construction company. At the time, the construction industry in Hong Kong was experiencing a period of rapid growth. Ho took advantage of this great opportunity, and made large profits from it.

Ho, along with his partners, including Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok, renowned Macau gambler Yip Hon and his brother-in-law Teddy Yip, bid for Macau franchises. By bidding high and promising to promote tourism and to develop infrastructure, they won the public tender for Macau's gaming monopoly. It costed only $410,000. In 1961, the company was renamed to Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, S.A.R.L. (STDM).

Under Ho and Yip's management, the Lisboa Casino list hotel business bloomed, and later became a famous international casino. In 1972, it was the biggest landmark of Macau and was the biggest hotel and casino in the city. At that time, STDM operated nine casinos in total.

In the same year, Ho also set up Shun Tak Holdings Ltd, which was listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It owns one of the world's largest fleets of high-speed jetfoils, which ferry passengers between Hong Kong and Macau.

In 1987, Portugal agreed to return Macau to China in 1999. Ho took part in the joint advisory committee.

In 1989, STDM took the full control of the Macau Jockey Club. Ho became its chairman and chief executive officer (CEO).

In 1991, Ho led STDM to build and run the Ka-Ho Port in order to launch container operations. In addition, the oil terminal opened in 1995.

In 1995, Ho and STDM invested in the development of Macau's new $1.1-billion international airport. 14% of shares of Air Macau belonged to Ho and STDM. In 1996, the Macau World Trade Center, which STDM had invested in, opened. Ho took stakes in Macau's airline, airport, television network, golf course, roads, bridges, electricity company, horse-racing track, port and harbor.

In 1998, Ho became the first living Macau resident to have a local street named after him. He also launched Asia's first soccer and basketball lottery called SLOT.

STDM invests large amounts of money to promote tourism in Macau. One example is that of the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center, which opened in December 2001 and became another landmark in Macau. The 338-meter tower is the world's 10th tallest. Ho's investments in Macau are diverse, and are connected to different types of industries.

Ho also launched the web site, an online casino operated in partnership with Vancouver-based. It offers various casino games like Baccarat, Blackjack and Roulette.

Gambling and Macau

The success of the gambling business in Macau is to a great extent due to the gambling policy in Hong Kong in the 1870's. In 1867, Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell, the governor of Hong Kong introduced a policy of collecting heavy taxes on gambling licenses. In 1872, Sir Arthur Edward Kennedy further forbade gambling in Hong Kong. Consequently, a custom of gambling in Macau has grown.

Casino Lisboa is one of the landmarks of Macau, and is open 24 hours a day. The casino features 107 slots and 146 table games. The property has six restaurants and a hotel with 1,000 rooms.

It owns up to 70% market share of Macau's gambling business. As this kind of gambling is illegal in Hong Kong, it is welcomed by tourists. Benefitting from the individual travelling policy between Hong Kong and Macau, the business of Casino Lisboa has increased rapidly, especially in the Chinese Lunar New Year. Within that period, the average daily income is HK$100 million. It is predicted that Lisboa will be required to pay HK$8 billion on betting duty.

Apart from casinos, soccer, horse race and dog race gambling are the other main income sources of Macau's gambling industry. Before the setting up of soccer gambling betting rules in Hong Kong, soccer gambling in Macau was very popular among Hong Kong residents.

For many years, the gambling industry of Macau was solely owned by Ho's STDM. This era of monopoly came to an end in 2000. In February 2000, the government of Macau SAR proposed to split Macau's gambling operation right into three parts. The casinos in Macau were still under STDM, but those in Coloane and Taipa were opened for bidding. At last, in 2002, other casino operators were able to obtain licenses for casinos in Coloane and Taipa.

Social effects of Gambling

Although gambling in Macau can benefit the economy in different areas, such as tourism, it can also lead to major social problems. As we know, one can be addicted to gambling, which is also considered to be a kind of mental illness (Pathological Gambling). Those who suffer from this illness would devote themselves to gambling. They treat gambling as a significant part of their lives, as opposed to just entertainment. Sufferers may lose their job, their family and friends. Consequently, many social problems result from gambling culture.

Those who cannot control themselves tend to think they will win one day. When they do not have enough money, they will try to borrow from illegal creditors. Some may even commit crimes like burglary or robbery to compensate for their losses.

Furthermore, the gambling industry is undeniably related with criminal activities such as drug dealing. Although gambling industries have brought great benefits to Macau, it also brings much torment to Macau's government.

Community Commitment

Ho has also made great contributions to education. Several scholarships have been set up to award students for further studies. He established the Guangzhou Education Fund which subsidizes research in universities. Other funds have been made for the Macau-Sino-Latin Foundation and the Chinese Culture and Arts Association of Macau.

Ho still shows concern for his alma later, the University of Hong Kong. He attended the 90th Anniversary Ceremony of the University of Hong Kong, and shared stories about his university life with the public. He was the chairperson of the executive committee of the University of Hong Kong Foundation for Educational Development and Research. He gave donations to the University of Hong Kong for

  • Running facilities and accommodations, e.g. Stanley Ho Sports Centre, Flora Ho Sports Centre, Ricci Hall
  • Maintenance, and to Lady Ho Tung Hall, which was established by the Ho family.

Apart from the University of Hong Kong, he also obtained a honorary doctorate of social sciences from the University of Macau.

Ho is also active in the political field. He is a Standing Committee member of the 9th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.


In 1998, Dr Stanley Ho Avenue in Macau was named after him, which made him the first Chinese person in Macau history to receive this honor during his lifetime. In 1995, the Portuguese government honored him the Grã-Cruz da Ordem (Great Cross of the Order) Do Infante Dom Henrique, the highest honor for a civilian for his devotion in contributing back to society.

In 2003, Ho was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Mr. Tung Chee Hwa, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the community, playing an important role in promoting education, sports and other community services for the youth. The GBS is awarded to persons who have offered very distinguished services to the community or who have rendered public or voluntary services of a very high degree of merit.

Triads and Ho

On the other hand, Ho has been repeatedly linked to triads. It has been alleged that some of the burglaries and robberies that occurred in Macau casinos were related to conflicts between Ho and triad groups.

The public incident in the Philippines is one of the most highly-publicised news events concerning Ho's connection with triads. Since there is no evidence pointing to the relationship between Ho and triad activities, Philippine President Joseph Estrada still supports Ho personally. However, there are magazines who claim that Stanley Ho is in fact the leader of the Kung Lok triad group.

Personal Life

Ho has 17 children and some of them are also famous in Hong Kong and Macau. Pansy Ho Chiu-king, director of STDM, is known for her excellence in the business, and Josie Ho Chiu-yi, pop singer and actor, has released a number of albums and took part in many movies.

Ho likes dancing very much, especially tango, chacha, and waltz. He often performs dances to raise funds for charities on television, and sponsors many dance performances in Hong Kong and Macau, such as those of the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Macau Arts Festival, to promote the art of dancing. Apart from sponsoring performances, he has also invited internationally renowned dancing groups, like the National Ballet of China, to perform in Hong Kong and Macau.

Ho is related to Ambassador Eric Hotung, who is a grandson of Sir Robert Hotung.

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