Wanna make the big bucks? Maybe your mom told you to go into law or medicine, but the real money is in gambling. Not as a high-roller; as a casino executive. If you don’t believe us, check out these staggering paychecks recently revealed in the Sweet 16 rankings of CEO pay for public companies that are HQ’d in Las Vegas, published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal; of the top five spots, four are held by well-known gaming moguls.

Wynn Leads the Pack

Based on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) formula for calculating salaries and net worth, Las Vegas visionary (despite being virtually blind now from degenerative eye disease) Steve Wynn stands at #1 at $17.7 million. At that annual income, we have to say we think he should have been able to find a better plastic surgeon and more realistic hair dye.

By doing a slightly different calculation, namely, adding in stock options, infamous curmudgeon and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson comes out #1 by a long-shot with a bundled $41.3 million; that’s $30.6 million in stock options, and $10.7 million in actual pay.  We’d walk like a Venetian for that kind of dough.

In a nice sleight of hand, Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, brought in a modest $50K in 2012 for serving as the gaming conglomerate’s “director of community involvement,” whatever that entails. But then for supposedly helping to stabilize the company (maybe that means administering bipolar meds to her hubby?), the Missus was deemed a lavish $3.8 billion. Yes, billion. Maybe the White House should call her in and see what she can do with their spread sheets if she has that kind of talent.

Loveman Felt the Love

Caesars Entertainment’s CEO Gary Loveman wasn’t hurting much last year: with a take home pay of $12,800,000, he came in at #3. Just FYI, at this level in the career food chain, actual salary generally only accounts for about a fourth (or less) of the exec’s total pay package; we’re guessing besides stock options and securities, there’s plenty of private jet travel, some pretty nice meals and a swank hotel suite here and there, wherever they may be in the world.

The #4 spot was the only one that went to a non-gaming executive. Rajesh Shrotriya, CEO of Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, a company that makes cancer treatment drugs, was in the top spot last year, but fell to fourth largely due to a 60 percent pay cut brought on by lower stock and option bonuses.  We’re pretty sure he can still afford a nice mortgage, though, with an annual cash salary of $10, 108,000.

Last and Least

Rounding out these well-heeled leaders is MGM Resorts International’s James Murren, whose take home pay was $9,641,000 in 2012. Given MGM’s dazzling first quarter profits and ambitious casino projects that are coming together, we’re guessing he may move up the ladder in the next year or two. But even if he doesn’t, almost $10 million can still make the lion roar.