These are The Top 10 Richest Casino Owners

Ranked

We’re always fascinated by the glitz and glamor of casinos. Although online casino games are a fun way to play, everyone should visit the bright lights of Las Vegas or Macau at least once to live the casino experience. Casino owners are a fascinating part of the world of casinos: the wealthy and charismatic owners are often the stuff of legend.

What would Las Vegas be without iconic owners such as mobster Bugsy Siegel or business magnate-turned-recluse Howard Hughes? The modern casino world is full of interesting characters who have made their mark on the casino industry in Las Vegas, Macau, and beyond. Indeed, many of these owners have used their wealth and influence beyond the doors of their casinos in order to try to change the world. Now let’s take a look at the world’s richest casino owners:

10. Lorenzo Fertitta, $1.7 Billion

A Las Vegas native, Feritta grew up immersed in the casino industry as his father worked at various casinos in Vegas. His father opened his first casino, aptly named ‘The Casino’ in 1976, and focused his efforts in off-Strip casinos. Together with his brother, Frank, Lorenzo has continued his father’s focus on off-Strip casinos which target a local audience, as opposed to tourists. Their company, Station Casinos, own several casinos in Las Vegas including the Palms and Red Rock Resort.

Lorenzo Fertitta was also an early investor in MMA as he purchased Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2001 for $2 million. This turned out to be one of his best investments as he sold UFC in 2016 for $4 billion. Now that’s a tidy profit!

9. Elaine Wynn, $1.8 Billion

Elaine Wynn casino owner

In this Dec. 4, 2014 file photo, Elaine Wynn attends Bloomberg Businessweek’s 85th anniversary celebration at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Invision/AP, File)

A self-made billionaire, Elaine Wynn built a casino dynasty alongside her former husband, Steve Wynn. After starting out working at her father-in-law’s bingo hall, before she moved with her then-husband to Nevada. In Vegas, they established some of the most iconic casinos on the Strip: The Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio.

After selling these properties to MGM Grand in 2000, the Wynns founded Wynn Resorts which operates casinos in Las Vegas, Macau, and Everett, Massachusetts. Despite their success in the casino industry, the Wynn’s personal lives have been difficult: the couple are twice divorced, first in 1986 (before remarrying in 1991) and again in 2010.

Elaine Wynn is well-known as an art lover. In addition to her personal collection, including Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud”, she is also a major donor and co-chair of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

8. Donald Trump, $2 Billion

It may be difficult to remember now, but the former President of the United States was once a real estate mogul famed for his forays into the casino industry of Atlantic City. In 1980, Donald Trump began purchasing properties along the boardwalk of the New Jersey gambling hub with the aim of opening his own casino. This was realized in 1984 when the Trump Plaza was opened (originally named Harrah’s at Trump Plaza). This was soon followed by Trump Castle (now Golden Nugget Atlantic City) and Trump Taj Mahal (now the Hard Rock Casino Atlantic City).

The Trump casinos in Atlantic City were iconic names on the boardwalk and achieved global fame by hosting major sporting events. The Trump Plaza hosted WWE Wrestlemania IV and V: Wrestlemania V featuring the iconic battle between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. The Plaza was also a premiere boxing location: the legendary bout between Mike Tyson and Leon Spinks being one of the most notable.

Trump’s foray into the world of casinos came to an end in 2016 when Trump Entertainment Resorts folded. While some of Trump’s casinos still exist under other names, the Plaza was demolished in February 2021.

7. Steve Wynn, $3.1 Billion

steve wynn holding hand up

Steve Wynn.

The ex-husband of Elaine Wynn, Steve Wynn got his start in gambling through his father’s bingo halls. In 1967, Steve and Elaine moved to Las Vegas where Steve soon bought a controlling stake in the Golden Nugget. This was just the first of his forays into the casino industry as the Wynn’s opened The Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio. He also expanded into other casino hubs, including Billoxi, Mississippi.

Together with his wife, Steve Wynn enjoyed success with their new Wynn Resorts company which offers casinos in Las Vegas and Macau. Steve Wynn stepped down from his position as CEO in 2018 following sexual misconduct allegations.

6. James Packer,  $3.2 Billion

One of the richest people in Australia, James Packer moved from his family’s traditional media business into the casino industry. Following his father’s death in 2005, Packer quickly moved to establish Crown Resorts to pursue his casino ambitions. Packer’s company now operates casinos in Melbourne and Perth in addition to Aspinall’s private gambling club in London in the UK.

Crown Resorts has had its fair share of trouble over the years. They lost their stake in the Macau casino industry due to poor investments and casinos in Las Vegas and Sri Lanka both fell through. Their biggest current struggle is Crown Sydney. Located in Australia’s largest city, the casino has failed to receive a license from the Liquor and Gaming agency of New South Wales due to allegations of money laundering. As such, the Crown Sydney building (the tallest skyscraper in the city) currently does not feature a casino.

5. Phil Ruffin, $3.5 Billion

Phil Ruffin

Kansas billionaire businessman Phil Ruffin, right, is seen with Donald Trump, Tuesday, July 12, 2005 in Las Vegas during a ceremony to mark the start of the 64-story hotel and apartment tower that Trump and Ruffin will build on the Las Vegas Blvd. “strip,” across from the Wynn Las Vegas resort.(AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta)

Phil Ruffin probably has one of the most diverse portfolios of all the casino owners on this list. Ruffin got his start in the convenience store business: he was at the forefront of establishing self-service gas stations in Kansas in the 1970s. He channelled the profits from this business into the hotel business, starting with a Marriott in Wichita in 1987.

Ruffin didn’t stop there as he expanded his business empire to include casinos. In 1997, Ruffin purchased the New Frontier casino on the Vegas Strip. The New Frontier had been embroiled in a staff strike since 1991 (one of the longest industrial strikes in American history) which ended with Ruffin’s purchase.

Although Ruffin had plans to build a new resort, this never came to pass and the historic New Frontier was demolished in 2007. In addition to the New Frontier, Ruffin also purchased Treasure Island and Circus Circus.

Ruffin is also well-known for his business relationship with Donald Trump. Together with the Trump Organization, Ruffin owns the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas. The gold-tinted building is definitely one of the most eye-catching buildings in Vegas standing at 622 feet.

4. Kirk Kerkorian, $3.9 Billion

Although he passed away in 2015, Kirk Kerkorian deserves a place on our list as he was one of the richest, successful, and most significant casino owners in American history as he pioneered the ‘mega-resort’. Born to Armenian immigrants in Fresno, California, the young Kerkorian was a successful amateur boxer as well as assisting the US war effort by flying Canadian-built de Havilland Mosquito airplanes to Scotland.

Kerkorian was a pioneer in the Las Vegas casino industry as he quickly purchased land with an eye to its potential for further casinos. In 1962, he bought 80 acres on the strip for $960,000: Caesar’s Palace was built here and the eventual sale of the land netted Kerkorian $9 million! He invested his money in further real estate upon which he built the International Hotel (now the Westgate). The International Hotel was an entertainment hub which famously was home to Elvis Presley (indeed, some say Elvis still enjoys his time there as a ghost!).

Kerkorian also brought the MGM name to gambling after purchasing the movie studio in 1969. The original MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was opened in 1973 but burned down in 1980 in one of the deadliest fires in Las Vegas history. The MGM was rebuilt and reopened only eight months later. He was unsuccessful of moving his home state into the modern age, with online gambling California still unregulated.

Kerkorian was heavily involved  in charity work in his ancestral homeland of Armenia. He donated over $1 billion to charitable causes in Armenia, particularly those that helped in the reconstruction efforts after the deadly 1988 earthquake. Kerkorian also left $100 million in his will to go towards a movie depicting the Armenian Genocide: ‘The Promise’ was released in 2017 starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.

3. Stanley Ho,  $7 Billion

Macau’s ‘King of Gambling’ passed away in 2020 but he left an indelible mark on the gambling industry in China. Born in Hong Kong, Ho moved to Macau at the onset of World War II to escape the Japanese occupation. Then under Portuguese administration, Macau already had a gambling industry but Ho’s vision built Macau into one of the world’s premier gambling destinations. Ho enjoyed a monopoly on the casino industry in Macau from 1961 to 2002 when Macau’s casinos were  opened up to foreign investment.

Through his company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), Ho owned 22 out of the 41 casinos active in Macau in 2019 including Macau’s famous Casino Lisboa. Ho had seventeen children, several of whom seem to have their father’s business acumen. His son, Lawrence Ho, moved from the world of investment banking into the casino industry as CEO of Melco International. As CEO, Lawrence Ho has directed Melco into the casino industry through City of Dreams casinos in Macau and Manila, the Philippines. Stanley Ho’s daughter, Pansy Ho, is currently the second richest woman in Hong Kong and is currently in the process of consolidating control of STDM.

Although he passed away in 2020, Stanley Ho has left his mark on Macau. It’s estimated that 25% of Macau’s population works at Ho’s businesses. It’s certain that Macau wouldn’t be the ‘Vegas of the East’ without Stanley Ho.

2. Lui Che Woo, $19 Billion

One of the richest men in Hong Kong, Lui entered the world of casinos later in life. Already incredibly wealthy through his career as a property developer in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Singapore, Lui entered the Macau casino market in 2002 at the age of 73. In 2011, Lui’s Galaxy Entertainment opened the Galaxy Macau: one of Macau’s largest mega-resorts.

Lui has become a major player in the Macau casino scene as Galaxy Entertainment now owns six casinos in Macau. The Galaxy Macau is also in the process of expansion: the mega-resort will soon boast a 16,000 seat stadium and a new Raffles hotel. At the age of 92, Lui shows no signs of slowing down: Galaxy Entertainment is exploring expansion into Japan’s casino market, with either Osaka or Yokohama being possibilities for a new Galaxy casino.

1. Sheldon Adelson, $29.8 Billion

An institution in the world of casinos, Sheldon Adelson was a giant in the industry before his passing in January 2021. A serial entrepreneur, Adelson built and developed over fifty businesses in his lifetime on his way to topping our list. Adelson entered Las Vegas in 1988 by buying the historic Sands casino. In 1996, he closed and demolished the Sands to make way for a new mega-resort, The Venetian.

Adelson was also a pioneer in Macau as he brought the first American-style casino, Sands Macao, to China in 2004. He followed this up with the Venetian Macao, The Londoner, and The Parisian. Adelson also expanded into Singapore, opening the country’s iconic Marina Bay Sands in 2011.

Adelson was also heavily involved in the world of politics as the largest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He was the richest casino owner in the United State and, indeed, the world in addition to being the 28th richest man in the world at the time of his death. After passing away in January 2021, he was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

If our list has gotten you interested in finding the best online casino, why not check out our online casino reviews? You can find safe online casinos to play all your favorite games.

Back To Top
Back To Top