The 35th edition of the legendary Forbes 400 list is out today, and the estimated net worth of the nine entrants from the Las Vegas area adds up to a cool $50 billion.
The Vegas Nine, for want of a better label, saw their collective stash rise $6 billion, or 13%, in a year. That’s more than double the 6% rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average during that same period. But hey, there’s some reason why they’re on the list and we’re not.
Sheldon Adelson, the 83-year-old casino tycoon whose family also owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, retains by far the title of richest man in Las Vegas (and Nevada). He is ranked No. 14 on the Forbes list, with a net worth of $31.8 billion, up $5.8 billion from last year (accounting for all the gain among the Vegas Nine). Notwithstanding his wealth, he is pushing for $750 million in tax money, plus a limit on the financial risk to his organization, to help build a pro football stadium. Despite his paper’s ability to influence coverage and public opinion, that may prove to be a hard sell in this low-tax state. The state legislature is meeting on this later in the month, and a two-thirds majority is needed to raise any tax.
Here are the others:
—Nancy Walton Laurie, of the Wal-Mart Waltons (Sam was her uncle), age 65, the richest woman in the Las Vegas area, ranked No. 124 with a net worth of $4.5 billion.
—Andrew and Peggy Cherng, sharing No. 232, worth $2.9 billion. They founded Panda Express.
—Steve Wynn, 74, another casino mogul, No. 246 with $2.7 billion.
—Phillip Ruffin, 81, who co-owns the Trump International here along with the Treasure Island Resort and Casino, No. 274 at $2.5 billion.
—Elaine Wynn, 74, double ex-wife of Steve Wynn (see above), 74, also No. 361 at $1.9 billion.
Rounding out the Nevada contingent is David Duffield, 76, No. 73 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $6.7 billion. He co-founded business software firm Workday. Duffield moved last year from the San Francisco area to Incline Village. That’s on the northern shore of scenic Lake Tahoe, a seven-hour drive north of Las Vegas.
To put things in perspective, the collective $50 billion of the Las Vegas Nine amounts to only 2% of the stunning $2.4 trillion held by the entire Forbes 400 list. Indeed, it’s less than either of the one-two Forbes 400 punch in Seattle, where I lived before becoming New To Las Vegas, of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Still, while everyone talks about the top 1%. This Las Vegas crowd is more like the top 0.000001%.