Stories abound about casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, whose death at the age of 98 was announced yesterday. Most centre on the resilience, cunning and deal making that earned him titles like the “King of Macau” and the “Godfather of Gambling” and enabled him to build a business empire across Asia. But on the mainland he was also known as a “patriotic entrepreneur”. Unlike many of his billionaire counterparts, though, he was often in the public eye, his warts-and-all life, including family feuds, on show for all to see. Born into a prominent Hong Kong family, he fled to Macau when the Japanese invaded in 1941 and made his first millions as a trader in the former Portuguese colony. But his vast wealth came after winning the city’s gaming monopoly, which he held for 40 years until 2002, when the industry was opened to foreign competition. By then, his business empire also included luxury hotels, ferry, plane and helicopter services and major real estate projects. But the arrival of competitors and their vast gaming, retail and resort complexes prompted him to rise to the challenge and Macau in 2006 ousted Las Vegas as the world’s casino capital. The Macau casino tycoon who set his sights far beyond the gambling table At his death, Ho had been in poor health for a decade, spending most of his time in hospital in Hong Kong. But he did not officially retire until 2018, up to which he was deal making, helping several of the surviving 14 of 16 children he had from four wives bargain for casinos in Macau. He was renowned for never accepting defeat, once contending that he relished challenges and would not take “the answer ‘no’ easily”. Having such great wealth and so big a family, a struggle among its members for his empire was inevitable when he fell ill in 2011; still, he was able to recover sufficiently to settle matters amicably. The leaders of both Hong Kong and Macau expressed their condolences to Ho’s family, saying he had made significant contributions to their cities. Of his Chinese patriotism there is no question; he acquired looted artworks and donated them to the state and gave millions for earthquake relief and construction of facilities for the Beijing Olympic Games. He enjoyed ballroom dancing and ironically, did not gamble. His was a colourful life, the likes of which we are unlikely to again soon witness. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.