Your Loss, Their Gain - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

The $245 billion worldwide gambling business is on a roll these days thanks to the growing number of folks getting hooked on everything from slot machines to online gaming to televised poker tournaments.

A handful of tycoons have gotten very rich as a result and are doubling down. U.S. casino mogul Steve Wynn, who runs Wynn Resorts (nasdaq: WYNN - news - people ), spent five years building his $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas casino, which opened in April, and is pouring millions more into a new resort in the Asian gambling Mecca of Macau. His main rival, Sheldon Adelson, whose Las Vegas Sands (nyse: LVS - news - people ) had a hugely successful public offering last year, is now ramping up construction on his $6 billion Cotai Strip project in Macau, which will feature seven huge fully loaded resorts and be completed sometime in 2008.

Kirk Kerkorians MGM Mirage (nyse: MGG - news - people ) bought up one-time competitor Mandalay Resort Group (nyse: MBG - news - people ) for $7.9 billion last year and now controls almost half of the hotel rooms in Sin City. Even Donald Trump, whose Atlantic City-based Trump Entertainment Resorts (otc: DJTE - news - people ) just reorganized, is building a 64-story Trump International Hotel & Tower condo complex in Las Vegas with pal and fellow billionaire Phillip Ruffin, who owns 41-acres of prime Las Vegas Strip real estate.

The newest gaming tycoons are four Gibraltar-based residents who took their online gaming company, PartyGaming, public in London last month. Controversy surrounded the offering, in part due to the fact that most of its revenue comes from the U.S., where online gaming is illegal. No worries for the four top shareholders--two Americans and two Indians--at least for now. All of them are billionaires and are worth a combined $8 billion.

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