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Lawrence Ho Sees Wealth Drop amid Macau’s Gambling Slump

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Lawrence Ho, the prominent casino magnate, has experienced a significant drop in his fortune, leading to his exclusion from Hong Kong's 50 Richest list after a decade-long presence. The decline in wealth of Stanley Ho's son can be attributed primarily to challenges faced by Macau's gambling industry, where his major assets are situated.

Ho saw a modest increase in his wealth following Vietnam's electric vehicle maker Vinfast's merger with his SPAC unit Black Spade, which led to a $23 billion listing on Nasdaq last year. However, this gain was overshadowed by the sharp decrease in the value of his primary asset—shares of the casino giant Melco International Development. Over the past year, the value of these shares plummeted by approximately half, largely due to a broader industry downturn.

The Macau casino industry, the only legal gambling hub in Greater China, has been grappling with the repercussions of Beijing's crackdown on VIP junkets, historically a significant contributor to Macau's gaming revenue. In response to these challenges, Melco has been actively seeking to diversify its revenue streams and reduce reliance on high-rollers.

Diversification amid Macau’s Gambling Challenges

One notable initiative in this regard was the addition of a 10,000-square-meter indoor water park to Melco's Studio City resort in Macau. This move aimed to attract a broader range of visitors, including families and leisure travelers, thereby lessening the company's dependence on VIP clientele. Additionally, Melco expanded its operations internationally, venturing into Europe with the opening of the City of Dreams Mediterranean—a $660 million gaming complex located in Cyprus.

These strategic moves reflect Melco's efforts to adapt to changing market dynamics and mitigate the impact of Macau's gambling slump. By diversifying its offerings and expanding into new geographical markets, Melco seeks to bolster its resilience against fluctuations in the Macau gambling industry.

Lawrence Ho's exclusion from Hong Kong's 50 Richest list serves as a stark reminder of the challenges facing the gambling sector in Macau and the broader region. As the industry continues to navigate regulatory changes and economic headwinds, companies like Melco are compelled to innovate and evolve to sustain long-term growth and profitability.

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