A number of casino tycoons and entrepreneurs with Asian gaming interests have climbed the ladder in the latest wealth rankings from U.S.-based magazine Forbes, published on Tuesday. Among them are several billionaires – in U.S. dollar terms – that are linked to Macau’s gaming industry.
Forbes said it was a record year for the richest people on earth, as the number of billionaires jumped 13 percent to 2,043, from 1,810 in 2016. It was the first time ever that the magazine has confirmed more than 2,000 people as having ten-figure-fortunes, it said.
Sheldon Adelson (pictured), chairman and chief executive of casino developer Las Vegas Sands Corp, which operates casinos in Macau and Singapore, remained the richest entrepreneur among the world’s gaming billionaires.
Mr Adelson ranked 20th among billionaires worldwide in the Forbes 2017 World’s Billionaires list with an estimated net worth of US$30.4 billion. It was a US$5.2-billion increase – or 20.6 percent – on his 2016 estimated net worth of US$25.2 billion, when he was in 22nd spot.
Lui Che Woo, founder and chairman of Macau gaming operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, climbed 42 places to 109th, on this year’s list. He is ranked second among gaming billionaires, with an estimated US$12.1 billion, up from US$7.6 billion last year.
Johann Graf, founder and CEO of Austrian gaming equipment maker Novomatic AG, is the third-richest gaming billionaire in the world. Mr Graf is worth an estimated US$7.2 billion, ranking 194th in this year’s overall list.
Members of the Ho family – Pansy Ho Chiu King and Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, children of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun – also saw their wealth grow this year.
Ms Ho, co-chairperson of Macau casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd, won an estimated US$0.8 billion and was ranked 414th in this year’s Forbes’ list, worth about US$4.2 billion. She was listed as the fifth-richest person among gaming billionaires.
Lawrence Ho, chairman and chief executive of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, jumped 186 spots and is now ranked in 1,290th place, with an estimated US$1.6 billion. Mr Ho is the youngest gaming executive on the list at 40 years old.
Angela Leong On Kei, fourth consort of Stanley Ho and a director of SJM Holdings Ltd, appeared in 427th place, up from 1,275th place last year. She is worth an estimated US$4.1 billion, compared to US$1.4 billion in the 2016 list. Ms Leong ranked sixth among the world’s richest gaming billionaires.
Cui Li Jie, the controlling shareholder of gaming investor Imperial Pacific Holdings Ltd, enters this year’s list, ranked 1,234th, worth an estimated US$1.7 billion.
Imperial Pacific has the right to an exclusive casino licence on the Pacific island of Saipan. The firm’s unit Best Sunshine International Ltd is currently operating a temporary casino – which opened in July 2015 – on Saipan, and is building a casino resort, scheduled to open later this year.
James Packer – the largest shareholder in Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd and a minority partner in Asian casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd – ranked 660th in the Forbes list, worth an estimated US$3 billion.
Steve Wynn, chairman of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd and of Macau casino developer Wynn Macau Ltd, saw his wealth increase to US$2.5 billion, from US$2.4 billion in 2016. His ranking however slipped 92 places to 814th. Mr Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, is ranked 1,161st in this year’s list, worth an estimated US$1.8 billion.
Japanese casino and pachinko mogul Kazuo Okada saw his net worth increase to US$2.4 billion, from US$1.1 billion in 2016. Mr Okada saw his ranking soar 710 places in 2017, to 867th, from 1,577th last year.
Chen Lip Keong, chief executive and controlling shareholder of Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp Ltd, ranked 1,290th in this year’s list, worth an estimated US$1.6 billion.
A few people in the gaming manufacturing industry also appeared in this year’s Forbes list. Teddy Sagi, co-founder of Playtech Plc, a provider of software and content for the online, mobile and land-based gaming industries, was the second-youngest gaming executive on the list, at 45 years old. Mr Sagi ranked 630th, worth an estimated US$3.1 billion.
Rounding out the list of gaming billionaires was Len Ainsworth, founder of Australia-based slot machine supplier Ainsworth Game Technology Ltd. He ranked 1,795th, worth an estimated US$1.1 billion in the 2017 list.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters