Melco Resorts’ Lawrence Ho Not on Forbes Hong Kong Rich List

Posted on: February 23, 2024, 01:48h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2024, 11:09h.

Melco Resorts founder, chairman, and CEO Lawrence Ho has lost his spot on Forbes’ list of the 50 richest people in Hong Kong.

Melco Resorts Lawrence Ho Forbes richest
Melco Resorts CEO Lawrence Ho delivers remarks at the opening of the Morpheus Hotel at City of Dreams in Macau in June 2018. Ho lost his position on Forbes’ Hong Kong Richest list for 2024. (Image: Melco Resorts)

Forbes this week unveiled its Hong Kong 50 Richest list, and for the first time in a decade, Ho isn’t among the wealthiest people calling the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) home. With an estimated fortune of around $1 billion, Ho’s financial position didn’t rank him in the top 50.

Ho’s net worth estimated by Forbes declined by about $400 million over the past year from $1.4 billion to $1 billion. The 50th position on the 2024 Hong Kong Richest list was fashion magnate Kenneth Lo, with a fortune of $1.1 billion.

Ho’s wealth is considerably tied up in Melco, a Hong Kong-based company that operates casino resorts in Macau, the Philippines, and Cyprus. The firm is most exposed in Macau, where it owns and operates two integrated resort properties, City of Dreams and Studio City.

Melco Downfall

Publicly traded on the Nasdaq, Melco’s shares are down nearly 34% over the past year. The shares lost 2% during Thursday trading to close at $8.18.

Melco is trying to keep its Macau casinos bustling after junket groups — the travel organizers that had brought VIP high rollers to the enclave for over a decade — were forced out by Beijing. China President Xi Jinping told the Macau government to keep closer tabs on the junkets. That led to the prosecution and conviction of former Suncity Group boss Alvin Chau. Junkets subsequently departed the market.

Melco is trying to make its Macau properties more appealing to a wider demographic. The company last year added a sprawling indoor water park at Studio City to make the destination more family-friendly.

Last year, Macau’s six casino concessions won $22.7 billion on their gaming floors. Though that constituted a 334% surge over 2022 casino win, it represents just 63% of the amount the gaming operators won off gamblers in pre-pandemic 2019.

Ho is the son of the late Stanley Ho, the so-called “King of Gambling” who held a monopoly on casinos in Macau until the turn of the century. That’s when the enclave was handed to China from Portugal.

Stanley Ho had at least 17 children with multiple wives. Ho lived a polygamist lifestyle, as polygamy was legal in Hong Kong until the early 1970s.

One of his widows is Angela Leong. She ranked No. 33 on the 2024 Hong Kong Richest list with a net worth of $2.4 billion.

Leong inherited much of her late husband’s empire, including SJM Resorts, the Hong Kong-headquartered casino company that is one of the six Macau casino operators.

Lawrence Ho’s eldest half-sister, Pansy Ho, ranked No. 22 with a $3.7 billion fortune. Ms. Ho inherited her father’s Shun Tak Holdings real estate conglomerate. She’s also a major investor in MGM China, one of the six Macau casino giants.

Casino Tycoons

Along with Pansy Ho and Angela Leong, the Hong Kong Richest list includes Dr. Lui Che Woo, whose $12.1 billion fortune stems largely from Galaxy Entertainment. Galaxy is also headquartered in Hong Kong and is one of the six Macau casino licensees.

Lui’s net worth dropped from nearly $15 billion last year. Pansy Ho’s fortune was also trimmed from $3.8 billion. Leong’s wealth declined from $2.7 billion.

The losses follow the benchmark Hang Seng index, the stock market of Hong Kong. Over the past year, the index is down almost 18%.