Stanley Ho was one of the richest men in Macau as well as in the world. His business network was worth almost $7 billion and he is considered to be the ultimate father of the Macau gambling industry.
Stanley Ho started his business during World War II. As the business grew, he moved into real estate, shipping, banking, air transport and of course the casino industry. It was actually Stanley Ho who first brought gambling to Macau.
Ho was variously nicknamed Godfather and King of Gambling, reflecting the government granted monopoly he held on the Macau gambling industry for 75 years. His wealth was divided among his daughter, Pansy Ho ($5.3 billion) who owns MGM Macau, fourth wife Angela Leong ($4.1 billion) who is managing director of SJM Holdings, and son Lawrence Ho ($2.6 billion) who owns City of Dreams.
Ho was the founder and chairman of Shun Tak Holdings, through which he owned many businesses including entertainment, tourism, shipping, real estate, banking, and air transport. It is estimated that his businesses employ almost one-fourth of the workforce of Macau. Apart from Hong Kong and Macau, he also invested in mainland China, Portugal, and North Korea and he operated casinos in Vietnam, the Philippines, Mozambique, Indonesia and East Timor.
Kirk Kerkorian is a truly famous casino owner. He is considered to be one of the most influential people in Las Vegas’ history. Kirk's business was worth around $11 billion. He owned shares in different industries, for example, car companies, investment groups and movie studios.
He was the president and CEO of Tracinda Corporation, his private holding company based in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian was one of the important figures in the shaping of Las Vegas and his work with the architect Martin Stern Jr. led to him being described as the “father of the mega-resort”. He built the world's largest hotel in Las Vegas not once, but three times. The International Hotel (opened in 1969), the MGM Grand Hotel (1973) and the MGM Grand (1993). His interests were not restrained to the gambling industry, for example in 1979, he purchased the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio in 1979.
In 2000 TIME magazine named him the 10th largest donor in the US. Kerkorian died in 2015, but there is no doubt that his legacy lives on in Vegas and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Sheldon Adelson was one of the most influential billionaires in the world. Prior to his death in January 2021, he was listed by Forbes as being worth an incredibly $33.5 billion. He was the Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates the incredibly famous The Venetian casino as well as the Sands Expo.
Beyond his casino world, Adelson also donated millions of dollars to high-profile Republican politicians. According to the New York Times, he gave at least $17 million to Newt Gingrich in his 2012 presidential campaign. He also made at least $25 million worth of donations to Trump, which led to the nickname “Trump’s Patron-in-Chief”. In the year before his death, Adelson donated more than $120 million to Republican causes. However, he certainly knew how to enjoy his wealth with a Las Vegas mega mansion, a 300-foot superyacht, and a 380-passenger private jet.
Having built a property empire on the back of his father, Donald amassed a very impressive portfolio, which included sought-after spaces and buildings in Manhattan, that were quickly followed by doomed investments across New York City.
In 1995, Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR). This took on ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana. A year later, the company purchased the Taj Mahal. However, THCR went bankrupt several times, in 2004, 2009, and 2014, leaving Trump with 10 percent ownership. He remained chairman until 2009.
As a casino owner, Trump may be best known for the now-demolished Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. However, the truth is that today, the ex-president doesn’t own a single casino. As such, while he can legitimately be called a famous casino owner, many would struggle to call him a successful one.
The Casino Business
Casinos are big business ventures. And they don’t shy away from their basic business plan. It takes a whole lot of courage, fore-thought and willingness to operate, control and ultimately succeed in this cut-throat world. The aforementioned individuals not only stood up to the plate, but also decided to make sure that the house was in charge, that the punters would leave happy and satiated. But, most importantly, at the end of every day, there was a profit and a profit.
These individuals have paved the way. They took it upon themselves to take the mantle that ‘Bugsy’ Siegel put down all those years ago, and run with it. From a desert to a palace. The evolution of the simple bet has been clothed and adorned with jewels since these guys entered the room and they should be recognised and appreciated for it. I’d bet on them any day.