Casinos are big business, generating billions of dollars every year. While hopeful gamblers come and go, the house, thanks to its built-in advantage, always wins. And the real winners? The casino owners. Let’s take a closer look at the people making the most from these establishments and their immense wealth.
Top 10 Wealthiest Casino Owners in 2023:
1. Lui Che-woo – $14.2 Billion
Lui Che-woo is an affluent Hong Kong business mogul and investor. He is most known for being the chairman of the Galaxy Entertainment Group, a Macau casino provider, and K. Wah International Holdings, a property development firm.
He built his fortune initially through delivering gravel during Hong Kong’s postwar property boom. In the 1950s, the aspiring entrepreneur founded the first K. Wah firm in Hong Kong. Later on in his career, Lui made millions branching out to property investing and then to hotel development.
Woo never ventured into the gambling business until he turned 73 in 2002. He has established himself as a major character in the Macau gambling market, with Galaxy Entertainment presently owning six casinos in Hong Kong. At 93 years old, Lui has a net worth of $14.2 billion.
2. Tilman Fertitta – $8.4 Billion
Entrepreneur and television personality, Tilman Fertitta, is most recognized as the star of CNBC’s Billion Dollar Buyer and owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. He also operates Landry, Inc., an empire that has the Golden Nugget Casinos under its brand.
Similar to Lui Che-woo, Fertitta originally made his wealth in property construction and real estate development. In the 1980s, he launched his first extensive project, the Key Largo Hotel in Galveston, Texas. At Landry’s, Inc., Tilman started out as a partner in their restaurant chain.
He ended up taking Landry’s, Inc. public in 1993, and the firm immediately expanded. The company invested in hotels, entertainment, sports, and of course, casinos. Tilman bought Golden Nugget Casinos in 2005, and is now worth $8.4 billion.
3. Denise Coates – $7.5 Billion
Unlike the first two billionaires on this list, Denise Coates doesn’t run a physical casino. She is the founder and majority shareholder of Bet365, an online gambling company. With this, Denise is considered one of the richest women in the UK.
Coates had humble beginnings, working as an accountant. In 1995, she was named managing director of a small chain of stores. The aspiring businesswoman purchased the domain Bet365.com after witnessing the huge growth of internet gambling in 2000.
In 2016, Bet365 was recognized as one of the largest online betting platforms in the world. She has been one of the highest-paid chief executives in Britain for years as she owns about half of the company. Bet365 made $3.41 billion in 2022, giving Coates a $7.5 billion fortune.
4. Johann Graf – $7.3 Billion
One of the most low-profile billionaires around is Johann Graf. He is the founder and owner of the Austrian gambling company, Novomatic. They operate international casinos and sell gambling equipment, such as video poker games, slot machines, and electronic table games.
Graf was never expected to be a world-class businessman. That is because he was supposed to run his family’s butcher shop. He lived with his grandparents and worked as an apprentice butcher, but decided to take another route as a teenager.
Johann started his business career importing pinball machines from the United States to Austria. He soon worked for a slot company in the United Kingdom. Graf founded Novomatic in 1980, and it was a huge success. Now, Johann holds a fortune of $7.3 billion.
5. Mark Scheinberg – $5.2 Billion
Mark Scheinberg is another individual who has thrived in the online gambling space. He is the former co-owner and CEO of the internet poker cardroom PokerStars. Scheinberg is also an avid investor, with holdings in real estate and luxury hotels, among other areas.
In 2001, Scheinberg and his programming father Isai Scheinberg launched PokerStars. Throughout Mark’s time as CEO, it grew to become the largest online poker company, as well as the home of the world’s largest online gambling tournament series.
PokerStars was sold to Amaya Gaming in 2014 for $4.9 billion. Scheinberg reaped approximately $3 billion from the sale of the poker business while holding 75% of it. Now, Mark is focusing his efforts on real estate investments. Scheinberg holds a net worth of $5.2 billion from his endeavors.
6. Pansy Ho – $3.8 Billion
When Macau’s King of Gambling, Stanley Ho, died in 2020, he left his fortune and business empire to his daughter Pansy Ho. She runs Shun Tak Holdings, a company active in shipping, property and hospitality. This helped her become the second richest woman in Hong Kong.
Before inheriting her father’s wealth, Pansy worked hard on her own. After college, she tried out in the entertainment industry and later started a public relations company. At this time, Stanley Ho was already flourishing and becoming an icon in the casino sector.
Pansy has earned a reputation as one of the wealthiest casino owners in the world, trying to follow in her father’s legacy. Her father’s company was originally based in Macau. When she took control, she operated in Canada. This move helped her gain an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion.
7. Phil Ruffin – $3.3 Billion
Phil Ruffin’s portfolio is perhaps the most diversified of all of the casino operators on this list. Aside from casinos, he invests in hotels, oil producers, convenience stores, real estate, racing tracks, and more. He is also a close business partner of former US president Donald Trump.
In the 1970s, Ruffin started his business career running convenience stores. In Kansas, he was a pioneer in the development of self-service gasoline stations. He transferred the revenues from this venture into the hotel industry. He began by opening Marriott in 1987 and then got into casinos.
Ruffin’s most successful gambling endeavors include New Frontier, Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, and Treasure Island Hotel & Casino. He gained fame through close ties with the Trump Organization. Phil owns half of the shares in Trump International Las Vegas Hotel. Ruffin’s net worth is $3.3 billion.
8. Steve Wynn – $3.2 Billion
Stephen Wynn is a property developer and art collector responsible for building some of Vegas’ most famous casinos with his ex-wife and sister, Elaine Wynn. Together, they created Treasure Island, The Mirage, Wynn Las Vegas, and more.
Steve’s father was the one who introduced him to the gambling business with his bingo halls. He was well-versed in business because he came from a family of investors. He began selling ice cream at 15 and eventually took over his father’s business.
Wynn Resorts was founded after Wynn transformed his father’s bingo operation into a casino venture. Before splitting up with Elaine, he enjoyed his profits as CEO of Wynn Resorts. But even after stepping down due to sexual misconduct allegations, he is still worth $3.2 billion.
9. Lorenzo Fertitta – $2.9 Billion
Cousin of Tilman Fertitta, Lorenzo Fertitta, is the chair of Red Rocks Resort Inc. and Fertitta Capital. He rose to prominence as an early investor in the UFC and became the CEO of the MMA organization, which helped his wealth skyrocket.
Lorenzo grew up in the gambling industry thanks to his father, Frank, who worked at several casinos in Las Vegas. In 1976, his father founded his first casino, appropriately titled The Casino. Lorenzo has maintained his father’s pursuit of off-Strip casino sites with his older brother, Frank Jr.
Frank Jr. and Lorenzo bought the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for $2 million in 2001. 15 years later, they sold it for $4 billion. With their money, they got to launch Fertitta Capital in 2017. Lorenzo also inherited Red Rocks Resort from his father, which factors into his $2.9 billion wealth.
10. James Packer – $2.7 Billion
James Packer, one of Australia’s wealthiest individuals, is famous for transitioning his family’s conventional media operation to the casino industry. Packer became the biggest shareholder of Crown Resorts, which has branches in Australia and London.
He comes from a family well-known in Australia’s business sector. His parents are media tycoons Kerry and Roslyn Packer. After his father died in 2005, James inherited ownership of Consolidated Media Holdings, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, and Crown Resorts.
Packer planned to center his family’s fortune around casino enterprises. Thus, he focused his attention more on Crown Resorts. However, in February 2022, Crown Resorts was sold to The Blackstone Group for $6.4 billion, amounting to James Packer’s $2.7 billion net worth.