Casino tycoon Stanley Ho, who made the enclave of Macau into a gambling hub even bigger than Las Vegas, has died in Hong Kong at age 98. Considered the father of modern gambling in China, Ho's long and eventful life tracked the ebb and flow of southern China's fortunes, per the AP. After a swashbuckling start as a kerosene trader, he ended up as Macau's richest person, a lavish spender, and debonair ballroom dancer. A family statement said he died peacefully in his sleep, but it didn't give a cause of death. Tall, handsome, and of mixed Chinese and European heritage, Ho fathered 17 children with four women, an extended family that engaged in high-profile squabbles over his legacy during his later years.
Ho had stakes in businesses running everything from the ferries and helicopters connecting Hong Kong and Macau to department stores, hotels, Macau's airport, and its horse-racing tracks. But even though he was nicknamed the "King of Gambling," Ho avoided the gambling floor himself. "I don't gamble at all. I don't have the patience," he said in 2001. "Don't expect to make money in gambling. It's a house game. It's for the house." Ho advised his loved ones to avoid gambling as well, notes Reuters. Under Ho's watch, the "once-sleepy" Macau surpassed Vegas to become the biggest gambling hub in the world, reports Bloomberg. Ho "built Macau," is how the latter's headline puts it.
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