A grandson of the “King of Gambling” has made a big bet on online gaming. Stanley Ho Willers heads HoGaming, a company operating on the Internet with live dealer software.
There’s another name on Stanley Ho’s list of possible successors in the long run, and it is not any of those making headlines recently.
His name is Stanley Ho Willers, 33, and is the grandson of the STDM founder, son of the patriarch’s daughter Angela Ho and her first husband, Uwe Gunter Willers.
However, it is only the name that raises Stanley Ho Willers’ profile. He is CEO of the HoGaming, presented on several specialized websites as “the world leader for live dealer games featuring high-end quality company streaming video.”
This is the only company in the Ho family universe dedicated to online gambling, meaning that they cannot operate in Macau, as the city has yet to regulate a sector seen by some experts as of significant potential.
The “new Stanley” was born in 1987 and, as a young man, went to study in the United States. He completed high school at Winston Preparatory and attained a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics at Northeastern University in Boston.
The page he maintains on Facebook, although not updated, is in the name of Stanley Ho Willers, a name that turns out to be the most common. However, in his grandfather’s recent obituary, only Stanley Willers appears, unlike his younger half-sister, who signs Ariel Ho-Kjaer.
Mr Ho Willers did not respond to questions sent by Macau Business.
Connection to Macau
“The Ho family has been in casino operation in Macau for more than four decades and laid the foundations for today’s world-leading Macau casino market,” says HoGaming’s website. “Our founder brought the expertise of her family to revolutionize the industry by developing one of the world’s first live dealer software.”
HoGaming also explains: “to maintain the highest business standards, all dealers from our Philippine-based studio are trained by Macau land-based professionals.” It means, “HoGaming’s risk management team is comprised of professionals with years of experience working in Macau’s casino operations.” Another reliable source ensures those dealers operating “are all trained by the training staff from the famous Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau, before working in the live dealer environment.”
The connection to Macau and the founder is always present.
At the time of signing an important agreement with an online mahjong company, the CEO of this company stated: “ “Mahjong Logic is extremely excited to be partnered with HoGaming. The Ho family is known worldwide to be leaders in gaming and online mahjong is now a part of that dominance.”
The following year, when taking its first steps in Europe, HoGaming was presented as “the online gambling arm of the gambling empire founded by Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho.”
And, as with family casinos in Macau, the most popular game for HoGaming is baccarat.
Stanley Ho Willers was one of the faces of the CasinoBeats Summit, held last year in London.
Presented by the organization as CEO of HoGaming, it also became known that he “heads the sales and business development for HoGaming, a private family owned live-dealer provider based out of Manila and Hong Kong. He has been with the company since inception.”
The “new” Stanley’s stepfather was the company’s first CEO.
Angela Ho and Peter Kjaer created HoGaming and Peter took the lead in the early years.
The curious thing is that both Angela and Peter are connected to the artistic area, presented as “big ballet lovers” in a recent interview, and much less to gaming or technology.
This is not, however, Angela Ho’s first experience in this area.
At the beginning of this century she created the company DrHo888.com, with the help of her father, becoming CEO and President. “I noticed the growing interest in online gambling. I convinced my father this was a space he should be in and we started the company,” Angela Ho said during a 2005 interview with Gambling-Pro.com.
Father-Stanley was not only the name behind the company, but also its credibility. “We have a very strong brand recognition among Asians. And for non-Asians, we offer what no other online casino can offer, namely a real face and person behind the operation, who has over 40 years of experience and integrity. He also has billions of dollars behind him which means he can afford to pay the players their winnings,” she said as CEO of DrHo888.com.
Furthermore, according to the same Angela Ho, SJM was the majority investor in the Costa Rica-based DrHo888.com.
The company no longer exists, and it is not clear what happened. In 2004, allegations arose that the company was accepting bets from Hong Kong. “Having Angela’s father’s name on it, it’s a big responsibility to carry. The last thing she wants to answer from her children is ‘Why is grandfather in jail?” said Peter Kjaer.
In a rare interview with Gambling-Pro.com, Angela Ho states that “DrHo888.com is a success now”, adding that “I believe we are the future.”
But about a year later, DrHo888.com was phased out and HoGaming was born.
According to information from the company itself, it all started in 2006, with the launch of the first live dealer casino software (Flash). That’s why HoGaming states: “for more than 15 years we keep perfecting our software to offer the most advanced and reliable product for users.” Five years later, Mahjong Logic justified its partnership with HoGaming, with these words: “the world leader for live dealer games featuring high end quality streaming video.”
Basically, what Ms Ho did was to enhance the experience acquired previously, both in terms of technology and the interests of consumers.
“There will always be customers for computer-simulated games like slots etc. But really, would you rather play against a machine or a deck of cards? As the internet develops and video-streams are becoming easier to broadcast, I think the players will demand and expect this kind of product,” she said 15 years ago. And HoGaming is precisely this.
From DrHo888.com Angela and Peter brought the idea of dealers (always young women) live, via streaming, which allowed them to be recognized as “one of the very first in the industry who revolutionized the product landscape through delivering internet-based live dealer games from land-based casinos, “according to the organization of a specialty event that took place in Manila last year.
HoGaming did not answer questions forth by Macau Business.
Angela Ho, sculptress
It is easy to find artistic references on Angela Ho’s journey, since she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University in 1979.
From 1980 to 1987, she worked as a sculptress exhibiting in a number of major galleries and museums, and was employed at Sotheby’s Fine Arts Department, New York.
And it was here that the business side appeared, in parallel with art – in 1980, she became a lead investor in the Tony Shafrazi Gallery.
From 1996 to 1999, she established and managed her own gallery when she founded the Ho Gallery, a gallery of contemporary art in New York. In 1997, according to her biography, she founded the Center of Contemporary Art in Macau, “a private museum dedicated to the dialogue between contemporary artists in Asia and the West.”
In parallel, Angela Ho began to take an interest in other areas of business. From 1996 to 2003, Ms Ho served as a member of the board of directors of BioSante, a pharmaceutical company listed on the American Stock Exchange and managed Successway Holdings Limited and Jet Asia Ltd on behalf of her father.
None of these deals, however, had the public impact of her 2011 remarks in
the midst of a family feud over who would inherit Stanley Ho’s business.
“I can’t believe my father left my mother’s family with absolutely nothing,”
Ms. Ho said at the time.
The situation was resolved only in 2018 through a statement to the Hong
Kong Stock Exchange which, according to what was made public, reports on
the sharing of business by all, except, by the descendants
of Clementina Leitão Ho.
More recently there seems to have been a rapprochement.
Not only did Angela Ho challenge her younger sister Deborah’s remarks
regarding her father’s will, but she was among the only two family members
who spoke on behalf of the family by the time of the announcement of Stanley
Ho’s death (the other being Pansy Ho).