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Lawrence Ho
Lawrence Ho.

Lawrence Ho

Casino king is making his mark in Macau

He’s been called the “Energizer Bunny.”

And it’s true – Lawrence Ho is just as vital, active and determined as a young business executive can be. But this 30-year-old is no ordinary company man: as chairman and CEO of Melco International Development Limited, he’s also poised to be king in the heady world of Asian gambling.

Son of legendary casino tycoon Stanley Ho, Lawrence is now making his own mark in Macau, an “eastern Las Vegas” located across the bay from Hong Kong. In May, he opened his first major hotel-casino: the Crown Macau, a $580-million US complex featuring eight presidential villas and a two-level spa. Now, plans are underway for an even more ambitious project: the City of Dreams, a massive, multi-building venture centred around a 430,000-square-foot “underwater themed” casino.

Though firmly based in Asia, Ho is also a Canadian citizen. Educated here from the age of nine, he says “it’s no surprise” that he ended up at U of T, where he earned a BA in 1999. “Canada is like my second home,” he says. “My wife [Sharen Lo, BA 1998 Victoria, MA 1999] and I still visit and spend our vacations there every year – watching numerous ice-hockey games, needless to say.”

Lawrence, one of 17 children, says he learned a lot from his father, who taught him to “never give up.” But he admits that the 85-year-old Stanley’s shadow is large, and that “being his son made it more difficult for me to prove myself.” Still, Lawrence’s many successes (which include bringing Melco into profit and establishing a partnership with James Packer, Australia’s richest man) have given him the confidence to try anything. Including, perhaps, a casino on ice? If anyone can do it, it’s this hockey-loving visionary with billion-dollar dreams.

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