Sheldon Adelson is the highest-ranked entrepreneur with direct casino interests in Forbes’ “World’s Billionaires List 2020” and the only one in the top-30.
The founding chairman and chief executive of United States-based Las Vegas Sands Corp is ranked number 28 globally among the planet’s richest, with a net worth put at US$26.8 billion.
He owes portions of his wealth to investments in the Macau casino market via Sands China Ltd, and in Singapore via the Marina Bay Sands resort, a participant in that city-state’s casino duopoly.
The global list’s compilers noted that as of March 18, when the rundown was finalised prior to publication, 51 percent of the super-rich were poorer than they were last year.
“In raw terms, the world’s billionaires are worth US$8 trillion, down US$700 billion from 2019,” Forbes noted.
“The richest people on Earth are not immune to the coronavirus. As the pandemic tightened its grip on Europe and America, global equity markets imploded, tanking many fortunes,” the news outlet stated.
Forbes counted 2,095 billionaires globally, 58 fewer than a year ago.
The next-highest ranking after Mr Adelson for investment related directly to casino business was Hong Kong-based Lui Che Woo, the chairman and founder of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. His listing includes “family” interests and is placed at number 106, with estimated net worth of US$11.7 billion.
Next came Johann Graf, founder of Austria-based gaming equipment maker Novomatic AG, which also controls Australia-listed slot machine maker Ainsworth Game Technology Ltd. He is number 230, with a net worth put at US$6.5 billion.
At number 211 with US$6.9 billion, was U.S.-focused financier Ronald Perelman, who has a stake in casino equipment and lottery services group Scientific Games Corp.
At number 437 with US$4.1 billion is Malaysian businessman Chen Lip Keong. He is the chief executive of Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp Ltd, the operator of the NagaWorld casino complex in Cambodia. The firm has a long-life casino monopoly for that country’s capital city, Phnom Penh.
Number 500 and below
Tied at number 565 on the Forbes roster were Hong Kong entrepreneur Pansy Ho Chiu King and Philippine investor Enrique Razon. They each have an estimated US$3.4 billion in terms of net worth.
Ms Ho is an investor in U.S.-based MGM Resorts International, and in its unit MGM China Holdings Ltd. She is a daughter of Stanley Ho Hung Sun, who had a 40-year casino monopoly in Macau up to the turn of the 21st century.
Mr Razon has diversified interests including port operations in the Philippines, more recently turning to casino business. His company Bloomberry Resorts Corp developed the Solaire Resort and Casino at Entertainment City in Manila, the Philippine capital. The group also runs a casino hotel in Jeju, South Korea.
Steve Wynn, founder of U.S.-based casino group Wynn Resorts Ltd and its Macau operation Wynn Macau Ltd, was at number 648 with US$3.1 billion. He left the group in February 2018 amid multiple allegations he had committed sexual misconduct against a number of female employees. He has denied wrongdoing.
At number 908 with US$2.3 billion was Australia’s James Packer, an on-off and then on-again casino business partner of number 1,335 on the list, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung.
Lawrence Ho’s number 1,335 ranking equates to a net worth of US$1.6 billion.
Mr Packer is a founder of Australia-listed casino group Crown Resorts Ltd. That firm and its corporate predecessors were investors alongside Mr Lawrence Ho’s Melco gaming brand, in the Macau casino market. After the Crown and Melco brands parted ways in 2017, things came full circle last year when Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd took a stake in Crown Resorts. The latter investment is currently one of the topics on the agenda for a regulatory inquiry faced by Crown Resorts in New South Wales, where it is building a new casino complex called Crown Sydney, at Barangaroo.
At number 1,063 with US$2 billion on the Forbes list was Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Malaysia’s Genting Bhd. The latter and its associated companies are active in casino operations in a variety of markets: Malaysia – via that country’s only licensed casino complex, Resorts World Genting; in Singapore, via Resorts World Sentosa; in the Philippines, via Resorts World Manila; in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom; in casino cruise business; and land-based casinos in other smaller markets.
At number 1,513 was Elaine Wynn, twice-spouse – now divorced again – of Steve Wynn. Prior to Mr Wynn’s exit as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, she publicly questioned his leadership style and the culture within upper management and the boardroom. She is said to be worth US$1.4 billion.
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"One thing that is certain under the coronavirus era is that the biggest beneficiaries are the illegal operators, both bricks and mortar and online"
Partner and director overseeing government affairs at casino industry consultancy Global Market Advisors