US Casino Billionaires Lose $6B in Net Worth, Four Rank on Forbes 400

Posted on: September 9, 2020, 08:30h. 

Last updated on: September 9, 2020, 10:19h.

Four US casino billionaires who ranked on the Forbes 400, the financial news outlet’s annual list of the wealthiest Americans, have collectively seen their net worths decrease by $6 billion over the last year.

Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson, pictured on the far left with his wife Dr. Miriam, remains the richest person in the worldwide casino business. (Image: Alex Brandon/AP)

Tourism, leisure, and commercial real estate have been some of the hardest-hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. With nonessential travel grounded for much of the year and vacations on hold, casino tycoons Sheldon Adelson, Tilman Fertitta, Steve Wynn, and Phil Ruffin saw their fortunes shrink.

Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands founder, chairman, and CEO, saw his net worth fall from $34.5 billion in 2019, to $29.8 billion as of late July. Fertitta’s fortune went from $4.9 billion to $4.1 billion, Ruffin $2.7 billion to $2.3 billfion, and Wynn $3.1 billion to $3 billion.

Fertitta’s hospitality empire includes Golden Nugget casinos in Nevada, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey. Ruffin owns and operates Treasure Island and Circus Circus in Las Vegas. He also controls a 50 percent stake in Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, the other half owned by The Trump Organization.

Wynn is no longer in the industry. The disgraced casino tycoon sold his stake in the company that bears his name in 2018 after numerous sexual misconduct allegations came to light. The 78-year-old continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Casino revenue went to zero in numerous states and countries, as governments issued stay-at-home orders for residents and blocked incoming travel. But the pandemic hasn’t hurt many others on the Forbes 400 list. America’s 400 richest people today are worth $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from last year’s rankings.

President Donald Trump, however, was also on the losing end, as his real estate assets lost value. Forbes says the first billionaire and former casino owner to call the White House home is today worth $2.5 billion, down from $3.1 billion in 2019.

Another billionaire who has investments in casinos is Stephen Schwarzman, who has a net worth of $19.1 billion, up from $17.7 billion. Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group private equity firm owns The Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay.

Casinos Losing Money

The house always wins, except during a global pandemic. In the two largest US gaming markets, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, gross gaming revenue (GGR) fell to almost $0 during several months, as Nevada and New Jersey governors ordered casinos to suspend their operations.

GGR in the United States was down 78.8 percent year-over-year in the second quarter.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly posed the most difficult economic challenge the gaming industry has ever faced,” declared American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller.

China’s Macau, where Adelson’s Sands derives the majority of its revenue, also saw casino win plummet by almost 100 percent. The same was true in Singapore, where the company owns Marina Bay Sands.

Casino Owners Miss List

Adelson, Fertitta, Ruffin, and Wynn certainly aren’t the only US-based casino magnates that are worth more than 10 digits.

A few notables include Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III, owners of Station Casinos and Red Rock Resorts, and Elaine Wynn, who founded Wynn Resorts with her ex-husband.

Ms. Wynn dropped off the Forbes 400 after her net worth decreased to $1.7 billion in 2020.