Known as the King of Gambling, Ho dominated gaming in the former Portuguese colony after winning a monopoly license in 1961. His SJM Holdings Ltd. flourished as China’s economic opening created a flood of new wealth. SJM now controls 20 casinos on an island of about 10 square miles.
Ho’s rise transformed Macau from a commercial backwater into the “Las Vegas of Asia” by exploiting its big advantage -- casinos were legal. As his fortune swelled, he expanded beyond the island, building residential and office buildings in Hong Kong. In 1984, he won a license to operate a casino in Portugal and spent $30 million to open the Casino Pyongyang in North Korea in 2000.