Considering the amount of cash rolling into casinos daily, it is easy to imagine that the owners of these businesses are worth a lot of money. The industry makes billions every year from land-based lobbies and online sites, and the top casinos each contribute a hefty share to those figures.
The recession caused by the COVID-19 hit the casino industry hard. Without the online gambling sector as a saving grace, we imagine the worst could have happened, and the industry would have crumbled totally. According to the latest World’s Billionaires List released by Forbes, a few casino owners who made the cut last year no longer have at least 1000 million dollars. However, the names on our list did not get downgraded because, despite the effects of the pandemic, they still make silly money.
Often, many casino brands belong to a single individual, which is why the most affluent casino owners have a net worth running in billions. These entrepreneurs are experts at branching out and spreading their resources. Many of them go beyond casino gambling, investing in banking, real estate, tourism, politics, and more. As they say, the rich keep getting richer, and our list of the world’s top ten wealthiest casino owners is a testament to that. Here they are in ascending order:
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10. Kazuo Okada
Founder and CEO of Universal Entertainment, Okada has a net worth of $1.3 billion and places 1613, according to Forbes’ latest billionaire rankings.
Okada’s early life did not hint at his success in the casino industry, as he had a knack for mechanics and had studied engineering at a vocational school in Japan. He became the breadwinner of his family at an early age following his father’s death, and as a young man, he earned money repairing TVs and Jukeboxes.
In 1969, he launched his company, Universal Entertainment, and began manufacturing coin-operated arcade games. After making a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, he decided to try his luck producing slot machines, and these gaming machines were to become his trampoline to success.
He was a major investor in Wynn Resorts and, in 2016, launched the Okada Manila Integrated Casino Resort, which cost a whopping $2.4 billion. Okada’s slots became popular in Las Vegas and Japan through the years. He is now one of the top casino owners in the industry alongside the likes of the Sands Group and Wynn Resorts.
9. Manuel Lao Hernandez
The 76-year-old Spanish billionaire is the founder and former owner of Cirsa and places 1513rd on the current Forbes list with a net worth of $1.4 billion.
Little is known about Manuel Lao Hernandez othahher than the fact that he is the founder of Spain’s largest casino company. He developed Cirsa in 1978 and steered the company for 40 years as it expanded to 9 countries in Europe and Latin America. In 2018, he sold the multinational casino business to Blackstone for an estimated $2.6 billion, debt included.
He still owns the company’s Argentina operations and two hotels in Barcelona and is the 9th richest casino owner on our list.
8. Lawrence Ho
The executive chairman of Melco Resorts takes the no. 1335 spot on the Forbes list of wealthiest billionaires with a net worth of $1.6 billion.
As the eldest son of former Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho and brother to casino magnate Pansy Ho, he didn’t start in the industry as a newcomer. He left his investment banking career and ventured into gaming in 2003 under his late father’s license. By 2006, Melco got its license, and Ho went into partnership with the owner of Crown Resorts, Australian billionaire James Packer. The joint business was known as Melco Crown.
The partnership ended in 2017, and Melco would go on to run three casino resorts in Macau. The company also owns the City of Dreams in Manila and the Mocha chain of slot machine clubs.
7. Lim Kok Thay
The chairman of Genting Group makes the billionaire list at the no. 1063 spot with a net worth of $2 billion.
An alumnus of the University of London and Harvard Business School, Lim became a director at Genting Group in 1976. The Group at the time was a conglomerate of publicly listed companies on various stock exchange markets and was active in multiple industries, including oil and gas, leisure and hospitality, palm oil, and more. Lim spearheaded the company into the casino gambling industry and developed the Resorts World brand.
Under Lim’s guidance, the Genting Group has made an indelible mark in the global gaming sector, with consecutive launches of casino resorts and shopping complexes in the US, the UK, Bahamas, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines.
6. James Packer
Worth $2.3 billion, the former CEO of crown resorts place 908th on the Forbes list.
Born to a media mogul father and philanthropist mother, Packer was raised in affluence but decided to skip college and become a jackeroo – a trainee cowboy in Australia. He eventually began working at his father’s company and ended up selling 50% of his holdings in a move to focus on building a worldwide gambling empire. Crown Resorts became one of Australia’s largest casino corporations, with branches in several countries.
He stepped down as CEO of Crown Limited in March 2018 and a few months later, resigned from Consolidated Press, his family’s company. He cited mental health issues as the reason, stemming from the fact that Crown Resorts had recently left the Macau and US markets. He remains the largest shareholder of the casino company and one of the richest men in Australia.
5. Steve Wynn
The former CEO of Wynn Resorts is the 5th richest casino owner with $3.1 billion and no. 648 on the Forbes list.
Growing up around the bingo parlors run by his father, Wynn had the foundation to become the Las Vegas visionary that he is today. After graduating from Pennsylvania’s University with a degree in English Literature, he inherited and began running his father’s business.
He then started picking up stakes in already successful casinos until becoming a partner in the opening of the Golden Nugget Atlantic City Casino in 1980. The Golden Nugget was eventually sold in 1987, but Wynn went on to build the first themed casino in the city. The Mirage casino, with its South Sea theme, was the first of its kind. It triggered a building boom on the Las Vegas Strip worth $12 billion, making Wynn a trailblazer.
His other casino brands include Treasure Island Casino, Wynn Casino, Encore Casino, and the Bellagio Casino Hotels.
In 2017, a string of controversies regarding sexual assault led him to resign as chairman of Wynn resorts and from the political position he held at the time. He may have lost his position, but certainly not his wealth.
4. Pansy Ho
The only woman on our list is the chairwoman of Shun Tak Holdings, with a net worth of $3.4 billion and ranking 565th on the Forbes list.
Pansy Ho is no stranger to the casino gaming world as she was raised under the wings of casino tycoon father, Stanley Ho. The latter maintained a monopoly over the Macau gambling scene for 40 long years and was called the “King of Macau” until his passing in May 2020.
After studying in the US, Pansy Ho returned to Hong Kong in the ’80s and soon followed her father’s legacy. She now owns 29% of the MGM Macau and chairs Shun Tak Holdings, a property developer that operates hotels and runs ferries between Hong Kong and Macau.
She was the center of controversy when she was banned from holding a New Jersey casino license after her father was found to be connected to organized crime. Nonetheless, as the princess of Macau by birth, Pansy Ho is thriving as the fourth wealthiest casino owner in the world.
3. Chen Lip Keong
The Malaysian based Founder and CEO of NagaWorld ranks no. 437 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $4.1 billion.
Our next ultra-rich entrant is a med school graduate who decided to leave his job as a general practitioner and dabble into property management.
In 1994, he won the first casino license in Cambodia to build the Nagaworld Casino Resort in Phnom Penh. With Cambodia’s cheap labor costs and recovering economy at the time, he constructed a massive complex offering 1700 rooms, over 5000 gaming machines, and 600 gaming tables.
As it became a major tourist destination in South East Asia, the casino contributed greatly to the country’s economic growth since tourism accounts for 12% of Cambodia’s GDP. Chen had stated that the casino business was an opportunity that presented itself at the right time when he was in the right place. He owns a guaranteed monopoly of the country’s casino license until 2035.
NagaCorp is now developing a casino resort in Russia with plans for Malaysia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Australia.
2. Lui Che Woo
91-year-old Lui Che Woo is the chairman of Galaxy Entertainment Group and K. Wah Group, and ranks 106th on the Forbes list, with a net worth of 11.7 billion.
Lui’s childhood saw him become the breadwinner of his family at the age of 13. From being a young boy who sold peanuts in Hong Kong during the second world war to becoming the second richest man in Asia, his life makes for an inspirational success story, to say the least.
Before joining the casino industry, he already made a fortune through construction, hotels, entertainment, and other properties in his native state of Hong Kong, as well as China, Macau, North America, and Southeast Asia.
In 2011 was when he ventured into the casino industry, building the Galaxy Macau Casino and Hotel. The establishment, which had cost $2 billion, boasts 2200 rooms, 450 gaming pools, 50 restaurants, a human-engineered beach, and a wave pool. The casino and his other businesses provide jobs to about 35,000 people working in over 200 subsidiaries.
With all that money, Lui Che Woo dabbles into philanthropy, most notably in the educational sector. Having been deprived of formal schooling as a child, he donates millions to education yearly.
1. Sheldon Adelson
As CEO and Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp, Adelson owns more than half of the company’s shares and is currently worth $26.8 billion and ranks 28th on the Forbes list.
To get as filthy rich as Adelson requires one to be extremely business savvy, and he was. At the young age of 12 was when it all began. He had bought his first newspaper vendor’s license with borrowed money, which would be the first of the 50 businesses he launched throughout the years.
Even though he never finished college, he first became a millionaire at the age of 30 and purchased the Sands hotel in 1988, which was to be his ticket into the billionaire’s club. The Sands Corporation is worth more than all American casino companies combined, and his business reportedly earns about $32 million a day.
Besides the Las Vegas Sands, he also owns the Venetian Casino Las Vegas, Palazzo Casino Resort Las Vegas, Sands Casino Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and the first privately owned US convention center, the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
Outside of the United States, Adelson’s empire includes the Marina Bay Casino Singapore and the Venetian Casino Resort Macau – the largest casino establishment in the world. His love for mass media seems to be burning strong still, as he is also the owner of the Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom.
At the age of 86, this casino mogul is living large in his 44,000 square feet Las Vegas mansion. He continues to look for potential markets in Asia and South America while working as an active philanthropist and political activist.