Sheldon Adelson Listed Number One on Forbes Magazine’s List of Gambling Billionaires

Forbes Magazine placed Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands Corp. at the top of its list the world’s wealthiest gambling industry billionaires. Forbes rated Sheldon Adelson as the 20th-richest person in the world, with an estimated $30.4 billion.

The finance industry and economic magazine launched a real time tracker of wealth on its website this year, so Mr. Adelson’s real time wealth has changed since the list was published. His wealth now stands at $32.7 billion. Billion-dollar fluctuations are common with the wealthiest people in the world, as evidenced by the $3 billion Adelson lost in a few minutes in December 2016, due to the Beijing government’s decision to change Chinese banking practices. (Much of Adelson’s wealth comes from his Macau casinos.)

If you took the $32.7 billion figure, Sheldon Adelson’s wealth would exceed that of the next 5 billionaires on the list combined.

Lui Che Woo #2 on the List

Macau’s casino industry has the second-richest gambling mogul, as well. Lui Che Woo, the Chinese head of Galaxy Entertainment, is worth $12.1 billion. Galaxy Entertainment Group, a Hong Kong-based corporation founded by Lui Che Woo in 1989, owns 6 casinos in Macau. Galaxy’s major properties are the StarWorld Macau on the Macau Peninsula, along with the Galaxy Macau and Broadcast Casino on the Cotai Strip. Galaxy Entertainment also owns three CityClub casinos on the Macau Peninsula: Rio Casino, President Casino, and Waldo Casino.

Johann Graf, the founder and CEO of Austrian-gaming supply company Novomatic, is the third-richest gaming billionaire in the world. Mr. Graf is worth $7.2 billion. Novomatic not only supplies gaming equipment to brick-and-mortar casinos throughout Europe, but it also owns some European land-based casinos. Novomatic also supplies online casino software to over a hundred online and mobile casinos. Extreme Live Gaming, a London-based live dealer studio, is also a thriving part of the Novomatic gaming empire.

The Ho Family: Macau Gambling Fortune

The Ho Family and the Fertitta Family each had multiple members on the Forbes list of gambling billionaires. Three children of Stanley Ho – 90-plus year old “King of Gambling” in China — are on the list. Stanley Ho helped found the Macau casino industry in the early 1960s, when the Chinese gaming enclave was still a Portuguese colony. Mr. Ho’s children on the list are Lawrence Ho of Melco Crown, Pansy Ho was listed for her shares of MGM China, while Angela Leong was listed for Stanley Ho’s gaming company, SJM Holdings, which owns Casino Lisboa and many other Macau properties.

Lawrence Ho is the youngest gaming executive on the list at 40 years old. His Melco Crown organization owns City of Dreams, Studio City, and Altira Casino in Macau. Melco also owns City of Dreams Manila in the Philippines, while Lawrence Ho recently went on record saying he would pay “whatever it takes” to win one of the lucrative Japanese casino licenses.

The Fertitta Family: Station Casinos

The Fertitta Family founded Station Casinos, a Nevada-based casino chain, in 1976. Three of Frank Fertitta Jr.’s children are on the Forbes list: Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Tilman Fertitta. Station Casinos went through a bankruptcy process in the last few years, forcing the family to sell its most famous property — the world famous MMA organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — to a Chinese corporation.

The UFC was sold for over $4 billion. That cash helped with the launch of an IPO for Station Casinos, which has been rebranded as Red Rock Resorts. During the bankruptcy process, the family went several billion dollars in debt to buy back shares and take the company private once more. The launching of an IPO is a sign that Station Casinos/Red Rock are financially healthy once more.

The Lim Family: Genting Group

One family’s exclusion from the Forbes list left some gaming experts perplexed: The Lim Family. Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay is the CEO of Genting Group, the largest multinational corporation in Malaysia. At the very least, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay’s wealth should qualify him for inclusion on the list. Genting Group not only owns the lavish Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore, but it also owns the only casino in the New York City metropolitan area: Resorts World New York City (Queens). The Malaysian company also owns Crockford’s Casino in London, which was at the center of one of the Phil Ivey lawsuits over edge-sorting.

Genting also is building Resorts World Las Vegas, which is expected to be the biggest and most expensive casino in the history of the Las Vegas Strip. Resorts World Las Vegas cost over $4 billion and Mr. Lim has stated he plans for the casino to be more than a gambling destination, but also a landmark.

The likely reason the Lim Family was excluded is the fact Genting Group is a conglomerate. Genting owns oil refineries and banana plantations in Southeast Asia, along with a variety of hotels and resorts throughout Asia. Because of its many non-gaming sources of revenue, Forbes might consider the inclusion of the Lim Family on the list as a comparison between apples and oranges.

Carl Icahn’s Reported Wealth

In a similar move, Forbes noted Tropicana Casino owner Carl Icahn in its report, but did not place the activist investor on its complete list. Carl Icahn is estimated to be worth $16.1 billion after a nearly 50-year career as a Wall Street investor. Icahn recently sold the Trump Taj Mahal at an estimate $300 million loss, but those losses do not represent even 2% of Icahn’s wealth.

Besides Lawrence Ho, 45-year old Playtech co-founder Teddy Sagi was the second-youngest gaming executive on the list. Teddy Sagi is estimated to be worth $3.1 billion. Sagi has sold over 16% of Playtech in the last few months to fund his real estate and co-working office investments in Central London.

Full Forbes List of Gambling Executives

Other who made the Forbes list were Mark Scheinberg ($4.5 billion) of PokerStars fame, Denise Coates ($3.6 billion) of Bet365, Han Chang-Woo ($3.4 billion) of Moruhan Pachinko, and James Packer ($3b) of Crown Resorts. Las Vegas casino moguls Steve Wynn and Phil Ruffin each were estimated to have $2.5 billion in wealth, while the Kazuo Okada of Universal Entertainment (Japan) and Manuel Lao Hernandez of Cirsa are each estimate to be worth $2.4 billion.

Steve Wynn would be much higher on the list, but $1.8 billion of the Wynn Resorts wealth is listed under Elaine Wynn’s name, after the Wynns divorce. John Harbrough of VGT, John Coates of Bet365, Cui Lijie of Imperial Pacific, Chen Lip Keong of NagaCorps, and Dominique Desseigne of Lucien Barriere also made the list. So do two other pachinko billionaires, Masayuki Ishihara of Heiwa Pachinko and Hideyuki Busujima of Sankyo Pachinko.

Rounding out the list was Len Ainsworth of Ainsworth Gaming Technology (AGT). Most of Len Ainsworth’s wealth came from Aristocrat Leisure, which he founded in the 1950s. That company was handed to Len Ainsworth’s children in the 1990s, when it was believe falsely that Ainsworth had a terminal illness. His assets would be worth a great deal more, if Len Ainsworth still controlled Aristocrat Leisure.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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