Stanley Ho, a key figure in Macau’s casino industry transformation over the last 40 years, has died at the age of 98 on Tuesday 26 May.

Considered the godfather of modern gambling in China, Ho had a four-decade monopoly on casinos in Macau and continued to prosper after the Chinese market opened to foreign companies.

Ho was reported to be in a critical condition yesterday, Monday May 25, before the announcement of his death at the Hong Kong Sanatorium hospital in Hong Kong.

In a statement on, Ho’s daughter Pansy Ho, told reporters: “The family of Stanley Ho today, with a very heavy heart, announced that [Ho] passed away peacefully at the age of 98 at around 1:00 pm today at HKSA,” she told the reporters.

“Even though we knew that this day would come, it doesn’t lessen our unspeakable sadness.”

Pansy Ho, who is the co-chairperson and executive director of MSM China Holdings did not provide details of her father’s death and stated there is, at this moment, no final decision yet regarding a funeral location and the details would be announced in due course.

The billionaire was a pivotal figure in transforming China’s southern coastline into a gambling hot spot which was ended by the Chinese authorities in 2002. SJM Holdings now has 21 casinos in Macau with others scattered across Asia, including one in North Korea.

According to Forbes, Ho amassed a personal fortune of approximately $3.1bn. Born in Hong Kong in 1921 to the Ho Tung clan, he was the ninth of 13 children and surrounded by wealth in his early years.

Following the end of Portuguese rule, gaming licences were handed to Ho’s company SJM Holdings, alongside Galaxy Entertainment Group, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, MGM China Holdings, Sands China and Wynn Macau

Yet despite earning his wealth through the gambling industry, Ho admitted that he does involve himself in betting activities at all.

“I don’t gamble at all. I don’t have the patience,” Ho told The Associated Press in a rare interview in 2001. “Don’t expect to make money in gambling. It’s a house game. It’s for the house.”