If you have been wondering who the gambling industry’s most powerful and highly regarded individuals are, then you are not alone. Many people have wishes of grandeur and want to emulate the top successors in this area. Below, you can check out the best 10 gaming influencers and view how they rose to the top. But be warned: it’s not easy to become a multi-millionaire in one of the world’s most cutthroat business sectors!
These great businessmen and women were spurred forth by one singular area, the gambling industry. Although gambling has existed throughout the ages, today gambling is more popular than ever due to its presence both in the physical world of fancy casinos and in the online realm. The industry supports everything from money betting and lotteries to luxury suites and costly accommodations. People flock to this sector for entertainment and to fulfill their dreams of living large.
Despite its popularity, making business in this area can be hazardous. Nothing is guaranteed. Money changes hands all the time, and without business smarts, it could be very easy to lose it all. Still, there are some who proved themselves to become successful in the gambling sphere against the odds.
Together, we will explore the facets of those who have conquered the gambling industry. I will show you how the modernization of gaming has changed the scene and I’ll give you the most interesting facts from each of these people’s lives. If you learn a thing or two, maybe you can follow in their footsteps.
1. Donald Trump
Occupation: Business Magnate, President of the United States
Net Worth: ~$3.1 billion
Country: United States of America
While most people know Donald Trump as an entrepreneur and as the President of the United States, he got his early start in the gambling industry in the early 1980s, through a glamorous run of opening casinos in Atlantic City. His first casino, Harrah’s at Trump Plaza, cost nearly $210 million to construct, but Trump didn’t stop there.
He was largely recognized as the biggest businessman in Atlantic City by the late 1980s by promoting entertainment such as boxing to the area, which in turn benefitted his casinos. His one-two punch of erecting monumental casinos and promoting entertainment in them was a pivotal combination that earned him millions. He reached success by being dominant with business negotiations and by sparking the fire which lead to tremendous growth in Atlantic City.
- Father was a wealthy housing builder who passed on his wealth to Donald.
- In 1990, Trump was in ~$5 billion in debt.
- In 1991, 3 casinos including Trump Taj Mahal went bankrupt.
- Despite economic failures in the 1990s, Trump was bailed out by Deutsche Bank with hundreds of millions in credit. He used this to construct Trump World Tower.
- In 2016, Trump became the first “outsider” president, winning a huge upset election over Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton.
2. E. Parry Thomas
Net Worth: Unknown
Country: United States of America
Given the motivation to succeed by his plumber-turned-banker father, Parry Thomas became renowned for being the first real investor in Las Vegas. His initial loan was to Milton Prell who constructed the Sahara gaming house. Lending practices and taking loans became the norm for Thomas, who created a valuable network that made Las Vegas what it is today.
Financing was definitely the name of the game in the early days of the gambling capital of the United States and Parry Thomas made it happen. Other than that, he lived quietly and tended to make his deals in secret. Despite being rather hushed loans, they had a loud impact Vegas’ strip.
- Dubbed the “Quiet Kingmaker” due to a silent role in the gaming industry.
- Became president of the Continental Bank & Trust Co. in 1961.
- Aggressively campaigned for the legalization of corporate casino ownership. Created laws known as the Corporate Gaming Acts.
- Donated 400 acres of land to University of Nevada to help further student education.
- In World War II, Thomas served as an intelligence operator in the army, which contributed to his shrewd business deals.
3. Frank Fertitta III & Lorenzo Fertitta
Occupation: Investors, Entrepreneurs
Net Worth: ~$2.2 billion
Country: United States of America
Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta—two brothers in business who pushed the boundaries of casinos and redefined the industry. They gave the “lights, camera, action!” to gaming. Their family corporation, Fertitta Enterprises, was launched during the dawn of Nevada’s great gambling generation and gave their investment company enough capital to create casinos, namely the Station Casinos and Red Rock Resorts.
The Fertitta brothers assisted in making customer service top dog in gambling by adding luxury hotels, restaurants, and even making the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) well-known in the West. What the Fertitta brothers did was revolutionary at the time, and their expansion is a testament to that fact.
- Station Casinos named one of Fortune Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For”.
- Both brothers are well-learned, with Lorenzo attaining an MBA in 1993.
- Although Station Casinos filed for bankruptcy in 2009, they rebounded in 2015 with a landmark Initial Public Offering.
- The Fertitta Brothers are well-known for philanthropy, donating specifically to veteran and education programs in the United States.
- Fetitta’s company is widely regarded to have saved UFC and is credited for its surge into popular culture by promotion.
4. John, Denise, and Peter Coates
Net Worth: ~$2 billion
This triumvirate is most often credited with the creation of Bet365.com, which has become a significant part of the gambling communities in the world and hosts a variety of electronic card and dice games including blackjack, poker, and roulette. It all began in 2000, when Denise Coates seized the opportunity to buy Bet365.com and began marketing the online gaming site. Since then, the company’s evaluation has reached the billions with the three relatives sharing ownership.
- Denise was proclaimed by BBC Radio 4 as one of the most impactful women in the UK.
- Denise Coates paid herself over £200 million in 2017 which triggered a public fallout.
- With the help of John, the Bet365 foundation donated hundreds of millions to several UK charitable funds.
- Peter Coates left school at 14 and focused on managing restaurants before his stake in Bet365 began.
- Bet365.com is known as a premier website that contributed to the golden online gambling era of the early 2000s.
5. Philip Gene Ruffin
Occupation: Business Owner, Venture Capitalist
Net Worth: ~$2.7 billion
Ruffin: a magnate with humble beginnings in the oil industry. However, starting in the 1990s, he became much more of an entertainment and gambling enthusiast who is widely acclaimed and renowned because he bought the New Frontier Hotel and Casino in Vegas.
Later, he was sold Treasure Island Hotel and Casino for just under $775 million and began to refocus his efforts on improving casino quality and buying more gaming-related assets. Ruffin is not a man who enjoyed keeping money on the table; investment was a chief concern for him. Today, he owns chains of assets that include grocery stores, race tracks, and properties and lives quietly with his wife.
- Ruffin was featured playing in one season of High Stakes Poker.
- Noted once that excess capital is never a source of good value. Instead, he believed, assets held intrinsic value, especially when they could not be replicated.
- Buying the Frontier was risky because it was the subject of long, violent strikes by the Culinary Workers Union.
- At 72 years of age, Ruffin married a young model. Her title was Miss Ukraine.
- Donated $1 million to a PAC dedicated to then-presidential-nominee Trump, but the money had to be refunded after the PAC went under.
6. Sheldon Adelson
Occupation: Casino CEO
Evaluation: ~$43.4 billion
If there’s a business magnate on this list who had his/her fingers in every pot, it would be Sheldon Adelson. Since the age of 12, borrowing money and investing into something profitable would be his niche. After starting several businesses with varied success, Adelson (at 55 years) attained the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Sheldon, in addition to his business associates, then built the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
By 2010, Adelson opened a huge gaming destination in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which was an oddity since slot machine licenses were uncommon. This gambling empire even expanded to China, with the Venetian Macao opening its doors in the last decade. Adelson today focuses on his gaming prospects but also owns a myriad of other businesses.
- Adelson grew up poor in Boston, MA, as his parents hailed from far-off countries.
- A philanthropist at heart, Adelson has donated to date $410 million to Jewish organizations.
- At 12, he was loaned $200 to buy a newspaper-selling license.
- Adelson noted in 2010 that his business ventures were like reaching for the stars and that if the economy were worse like in the global recession, he probably wouldn’t have started his casino empire.
- Adelson fought tirelessly against online gambling, as this would cut into his brick-and-mortar casino profits.
7. Stanley Ho
Net Worth: ~$2.5 billion
Our first Chinese entry on this list is Stanley Ho, a casino-owning businessman born in 1921. He settled in Macau during the second world war and began to work for a trading company there, but eventually set up his initial grassroots company in 1943 which specialized in kerosene. Without a doubt the notable actions he made were purchasing and managing gaming associations and casinos such as: Macau Jockey Club, the Lisboa Casino Hotel, and SLOT, the nation’s premier basketball and football lottery.
While these are just some of his enterprises, it is expected that his businesses employ roughly 25% of all people living in Macau, a feat that is so impressive it is most likely unrealizable in other nations. He attained his success by having a solid nest egg from his early working years and then translating those funds into valuable assets.
- Ho made a lot of cash by transporting valuable goods from Macau to China during the second World War.
- Ho was reported to be involved with the Triads and similar illegal activities.
- The entrepreneur has 17 children with four different women.
- The government of Macau effectively granted Ho a literal monopoly with regards to gambling institutions for 40 consecutive years, an act which solidified his success.
- Ho is well-known for his philanthropy; he frequently donates Qing dynasty artifacts to Chinese museums out of good faith.
8. Stephen Garret Siegel
Occupation: Real Estate Investor, Developer
Net Worth: ~$4 million
Country: United States of America
Let Siegel’s story be an indication that education is not everything when it comes to success. Stephen Siegel dropped out of junior high and never looked back. Although his start in life was rough, in 2001, Siegel launched Siegel Group Nevada, Inc. This real estate management and investment company took Nevada by storm, and soon housing projects and varying revitalization efforts began taking place.
Siegel currently manages restaurants, offices, and casinos in Las Vegas. He helped the gambling scene by revamping casinos and being a huge part Vegas culture. He’s not the biggest success story here, but he’s still young and kicking, outlying prospects looking bright.
- Named “Citizen of the Month” by Vegas’ mayor due to development projects.
- During his youth, Siegel worked at McDonalds to support himself.
- Began his enterprise with an interest in cars he garnered from a friend’s automotive shop.
- At 20, Siegel entered into a business agreement to open Unique Sounds, a car alarm and stereo retailer. Surprisingly, the store was almost destroyed during the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
- Siegel’s first profitable transactions were from restoring old cars and selling them.
9. Steve Wynn & Elaine Wynn
Occupation: Past CEO of Mirage, Wynn Resorts
Net Worth: ~$3.4 billion
Steve & Elaine Wynn are a husband-wife team that co-own their various assets. Steve, specifically, drove himself to the desert city to strike it big. And boy, he struck it big! He first purchased a small share of the Frontier Hotel and Casino. The assistance of another man on this list, Parry Thomas, was crucial as Wynn could secure loans for future endeavors.
Later, Wynn started the first ground-up casino: The Golden Nugget. Viewing the future ahead, the Wynn duo expanded on further success, erecting their initial Vegas strip gambling house, the Mirage, in 1989. Since then, the two have extended their enterprise to Macau and own travel destinations and gambling institutions across the United States, attributing their success to initial loan offers and solid business decisions.
- To curb anti-Semitism, Steve’s father changed their surname from Weinburg to Wynn.
- Interestingly enough, Steve didn’t attain a degree in business, but rather in English Literature.
- The Wynn marriage was anxious at best, with the two divorcing twice in a span of 19 years. Presumably, this was due controversial business decisions other personal misadventures.
- Opened the world’s most exquisite hotel-casino, the Bellagio, in 1998 which cost approximately $1.6 billion.
- The Wynn’s are additionally known for hoarding a collection of art worth an unknown amount.
10. Victor Chandler & Michael Tabor
Occupation: Bookmakers, Race Horse Owners
Net Worth: ~ £550 million
Last on our list are these two horseracing kings. Victor Chandler is the first bookmaker to understand the significance of online gambling. He launched his business, BetVictor Ltd, to Gibraltar in 1999 where the company could to provide a free betting service to his clients. Eventually, Chandler sold his stock and gave control to Michael Tabor.
Tabor was known for being a cunning gambler whose speculation on the horseraces could dramatically shift future wagers. This Englishman was notable in his expansion of local betting shops and jockey clubs, and today remains a leading businessman in the gambling industry with regards to racing. Together, Victor Chandler and Michael Tabor go down in history legendary bookmakers.
- Due to Chandler’s action of moving his bookmaking business abroad, a tax on betting was abolished to encourage competition.
- Tabor loved to buy horses as well, with a proud purchase being Tornado Prince.
- In 2009, Chandler was ranked as 362 on a “rich list” by Sunday Times.
- Tabor almost became a hairdresser but swapped to bookmaking after spending time at Hendon’s Greyhound Stadium.
- BetVictor sponsors events such as the Victor Chandler Poker Cup and Victor Chandler Chase.
There are a few guarantees in life, and successful business is not on that list. With a little determination, though, you can make lemonade out of whatever you find laying on the ground. While some of the people on this list had inheritances to give them an initial boost into the gambling industry, some lacked either finances or education to start their enterprises.
Some struck oil when they realized that online gambling was going to be a huge boon for their business. Others doubled-down on the brick-and-mortar aspect by opening larger and more opulent casinos. Whatever the case, there is one thing each of these financial greats had in common: they were not afraid to take risks, risks that could have terrible consequences. Such is the nature of gambling, living the dream, taking the plunge, and, ultimately, winning through an iron will.