Hong Kong leaders, tycoons bid farewell to gaming magnate Ho

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Hong Kong politicians, tycoons and celebrities joined grieving relatives Friday at the funeral of Stanley Ho, the flamboyant gaming magnate who made his fortune in neighbouring Macau.

It was the third day of ceremonies for the Hong Kong-born Ho, who played an integral role in transforming the former Portuguese colony from a sleepy outpost into the world's biggest casino hub.

He died at the age of 98 on May 26.

In the morning, black-clad family members including Ho's daughter Pansy and his fourth wife Angela Leong arrived at the funeral home, in the northeast of Hong Kong Island.

Local politicians including city leader Carrie Lam, as well as her predecessors Leung Chun-ying and Tung Chee-hwa, arrived at about noon, as did Luo Huining, director of Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

City tycoons and businesspeople -- including property mogul Thomas Kwok and banker David Li -- joined film star Brigitte Lin among the few hundred guests paying tribute.

A public memorial had been held on Thursday and hundreds of white floral wreaths with messages of condolence were placed around the corner of the venue.

Ho was known as the "godfather" of Macau casinos, having been instrumental in turning the city on China's southern coast into a gambling boomtown with gaming revenue surpassing Las Vegas.

His Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings (SJM) empire owns 19 casinos and remains a major player in Macau, the only place in China where casinos are allowed.