When the New South Wales government controversially signed to James Packer's towering waterfront casino, a meaningful clause was included in the contract.
Stanley Ho – one of the richest and most colorful billionaires in Asia – played no role in the project.
But six years after the then liberal Prime Minister Barry O & # 39; Farrell the & # 39; giant & # 39; Having approved Crown's 271m tower, Ho's eldest son announced that he would buy a $ 1.7 billion stake in Packer's company.
Lawrence, 42 – Stanley's eldest son and the second of his four wives, Lucina, are once again joining Packer, his & # 39; s brother for life & lt, just like the Sydney casino is taking off.
Stanley Ho, whose empire Bloomberg says he has basically dominated the casino city of Macau for decades & # 39 ;, is not coming to Australia, but his legacy is. And some of the incredible stories around the & # 39; King of Gambling & # 39; and his family will certainly follow.
& # 39; Brothers for life & # 39 ;: James Packer and former business partner Lawrence Ho – who will buy a 20 percent stake in Crown. Above, with his wife Sharen and Packer & # 39; s now-ex Mariah Carey
Mr. Ho's family has dominated the Chinese party-run city of the Chinese community on the Chinese coast for 50 years.
And that is thanks to Lawrence & # 39; s larger than life-size father, Stanley, who, at the age of 97, conceived 17 children among four women, built more than 15 casinos and made a fortune of $ HK50 billion (AUS $ 9 billion).
Stanley was born in wealth and fled Macau with family members after Japan invaded Hong Kong in World War II.
In a sign of his early entrepreneurial skills, he spent a fortune spending those years smuggling food and luxury goods to China. He was only 24.
But it was in 1960 when Mr. Ho began to change the sleepy inland waterways forever.
Ho and employees have won the city's first gambling license and built its first casino of many. He slowly began to transform the former Portuguese trade colony into an Asian version of Las Vegas. Locals now describe him as the & # 39; King of Macau & # 39; and & # 39; King of Gambling & # 39 ;.
But Mr. Ho was a controversial figure among the authorities in the West.
In the past he has denied fierce allegations made by the game authority of an American state that he was linked to Triad staff. & # 39; Triads & # 39; are the local term for mafia-style criminals.
Lawrence Ho & # 39; s father is billionaire Stanley Ho, pictured above with his fourth wife Angela Leong On Kei (right). Mr Ho has 17 children to 4 women and transformed the island of Macau
Stanley Ho (above) earned a fortune in smuggling food and luxury goods to China. He was only 24
Ho Sr. told the South China Morning Post in 2000: “These reports only say that I know some triad members.
& # 39; Well, maybe you came across something. To be or to know someone is completely different (than to be one). & # 39;
When Lawrence and James Packer first started doing business with the junior Mr. Ho's Melco company in 2006, Australian officials feared that Stanley could be involved in Crown & # 39; s projects. He got out of the way and resigned as chairman.
Ho has generally avoided talking about the key to his incredible business success.
However, he told some extraordinary stories about how the Macau authorities made sure that the American mafia could never take over the city.
Ho Ho told former BBC former editor John Simpson: & Well, two American gentlemen came to Macau and showed great interest in our casinos.
Helaas Unfortunately, the police there are not like our police in Hong Kong – not so well trained, you know. They have imprisoned these Americans for a violation.
Mr. Ho has a fascinating life story. He smuggled luxury goods from Macau to China, started a kerosene and construction company and later became a casino magnate
Photo left: Mr. Ho Sr. – shown here in a gold suit with wife Angela – one of the four women he calls his wives. Right: Mr Ho is a cousin of martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee (right)
Stanley Ho recently retired from the company – but is still in the building as & # 39; emeritus chairman & # 39; (above, leaving the hospital after surgery in 2010)
& # 39; And some unfortunate things happened to them there. It was all very difficult.
& # 39; One of them died there, and the other had his elbow gnawed away by rats.
& # 39; The prisons in Macau are not as well managed as here, you see. Great shame.
One died in prison … and the other had his elbow truncated by rats
Stanley Ho speaks with a BBC correspondent about the American Mafia who is suffering in a Macau prison
& # 39; He was in terrible pain, poor guy, so he had to be sent home of course. it was the least we could do. After that, for whatever reason, nobody came from Macau to Macau & # 39 ;.
Stanley Ho only left the family business last year.
He is retired, but is still & # 39; chairman emeritus & # 39; and many stories have been written about what his complicated family will do with his business when he eventually dies.
(Neither Lawrence Ho nor any of the other children have been accused of any criminal behavior.)
James Packer with Lawrence Ho and filmmaker Brett Ratner at the opening of a Melco Crown casino in Macau
Macau, a Portuguese colony, was put back on the map by the Stanley Ho casino empire – but the NSW government did not want him to be interested in the Crown casino
Mario Ho Yau-kwan, another son of Stanley Ho, suggested modeling Ming Xi Mengyao in a mall … allegedly with 99,999 roses
Model Ming Xi, who will marry the clan, following Mario Ho's lavish proposal
Several of Lawrence Ho's brothers and sisters and step brothers and sisters are involved in the casino industry and some live extravagant public lives.
Just two weeks ago, Lawrence & step 39's brother Mario introduced his model girlfriend Ming Xi to a Shanghai shopping center with 99,999 roses, media cameras & thousands of witnesses.
Lawrence Ho has led a clearly more subdued life. He was educated in Canada and was an important part of the family business, with casinos in Macau and the Philippines under the flag of Melco.
& # 39; Brothers for life & # 39 ;: James Packer and former business associate Lawrence Ho – whose Melco company will buy a 20 percent stake in Crown
Both Crown and Melco had been in a joint venture for 12 years, but that ended in 2016 after the Chinese government detained 18 Mr. Packer employees.
Now Mr Ho has set his sights on working with Packer (who retains an interest of 26 percent) once again.
In a statement today, Lawrence Ho said he was excited about what's coming.
& # 39; I consider Melco & # 39; s investment in Crown an incredible opportunity to purchase a strategic stake in what I believe is the main provider of truly integrated resort experiences in Australia, & # 39; he said.
As for Crown Sydney (see below), he hopes it will be an & # 39; architectural icon for the city, country, and the world & # 39; will be.
AUSTRALIAN CRITION SLAM CROWN & SALES TO HO IMPERIUM
The NSW government said that Stanley Ho has no & # 39; direct, indirect or economic interest & # 39; acquires in & # 39; Crown or its subsidiaries in its contract with Sydney Crown
Critics threw Crown for selling a 20 percent stake to Mr. Ho's company after it signed a contract with the government for its & # 39; giant & # 39; casino in Sydney Harbor.
As a condition for building the Barangaroo Crown, the New South Wales government forbade the company to own Stanley Ho or a & # 39; Stanley Ho Associate & # 39; to acquire an interest in the company.
NSW Greens gambling spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said: & # 39; It was a clear condition of Crown & # 39; s VIP Gaming Agreement not to have any relationship with Stanley Ho or his associates.
& # 39; How on earth could the son of Stanley Ho be considered an employee?
Mr. Ho Sr. resigned from the board of Lawrence & # 39; s company, Melco, in 2006, and the observers do not expect the contract clause to derail the offer.
Market watcher Stephen Mayne tweeted that he did not see the sale coming in on regulatory issues.
& # 39; The issue will be whether NSW, Vic and WA governments are happy with purchasing a board seat, switching to a control position or buying the entire company & # 39 ;.
Lawrence Ho was already in a joint venture with Packer & # 39; s company – Melco Crown – when Crown signed the contract for the hotel and casino, a company that has lasted more than ten years.
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