Another Twist in the Succession Saga Shaking the ‘Vegas of the East’

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Gambling tycoon Stanley Ho with daughter Florinda, left, and his third 'wife' Chan Un-chan, right, during a live television broadcast about the fate of his fortune

Lam Yu San / AFP /Getty Images

Stanley Ho, an 89-year-old gaming tycoon, has filed a lawsuit against two daughters by his second wife, raising new questions about the fate of his estimated $3 billion fortune.

(More from TIME.com: Read “Macau: A Succession Saga Fit for a Casino King.”)

The lawsuit is the latest turn in a potentially destabilizing succession scandal that has captivated Hong Kong and Macau — the world’s largest gambling hub — for weeks.

Ho, a billionaire and one-time ballroom dancer, controls Asia’s largest gaming empire. He also has four families, having fathered at least 17 children by four de-facto wives.

In late January, it emerged that one faction of his family had wrested control of a large chunk of his holdings. The aging patriarch blasted the move, then backtracked. Now he’s on the offensive once again.

The scandal is salacious, yes, but politically significant too. Ho’s empire, product of a colonial-era gaming monopoly, still means a lot to Macau. His clan controls the majority of the city’s casinos, as well as the airport. The family business, STDM, is the city’s biggest commercial employer, and is linked to SJM, a Hong Kong-listed firm.  SJM stock is down 16% since Jan. 24 and some analysts worry things could get worse.

No word from Ho on the lawsuit, yet, though his lawyer did note the billionaire is “very very annoyed, very very disappointed” — which, considering the stakes, seems like a (rather uncharacteristic) bit of understatement. (via Bloomberg)

(More from TIME.com: Read about Asia’s gambling industry.)

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