10/21/2005 12:00AM

Las Vegans well represented among America's wealthiest


"The rich get richer."

That old saying was brought to mind when Forbes magazine published its 400 richest Americans list, which was released on Sept. 22.

According to Forbes, there are 16 billionaires with Las Vegas ties. Of those, only six amassed their fortunes partially or wholly from the casino business. Two on the list attribute online gaming for their billionaire status.

For the 11th straight year Bill Gates topped the Forbes list with a net worth of $51 billion while Warren Buffett was second in the annual rankings with an estimated $40 billion.

The highest ranking Las Vegas billionaire on the list was Sheldon Adelson at $11.5 billion. The 72-year-old casino mogul has The Venetian mega resort on the Las Vegas Strip along with his new ventures in Macao in the portfolio that put him 15th overall.

Sharing the youngest billionaire status from the Silver State on the list are Pierre M. Omidyar of Henderson, Nev., with his eBay fortune of $10.2 billion at number 18 and Ruth Parasol of Gibraltar online gaming with $1.8 billion tied at number 164. Both amassed their fortunes by age 38. The other Las Vegas-based billionaires, tied at number 164 with $1.8 billion, are J. Russell DeLeon, 39, also of Gibraltar online gaming and visionary casino mogul Steve Wynn, 63, of Wynn Las Vegas.

Kirk Kerkorian, whose holdings are in the second-largest gaming conglomerate in the world, his MGM Mirage corporation, lists Los Angeles as his home. The 88-year-old investment king sits in a tie at number 19 on the list with $10 billion in net worth. Another billionaire with casino holdings, who attributes his fortune to investments and leveraged buyouts, is Carl Icahn. At number 24 with $8.5 billion, Icahn, 69, has The Stratosphere and Arizona Charlies hotel casinos in Las Vegas as part of his portfolio. Also with Las Vegas casino holdings on the list are William Samuel Boyd, 73, at $1.4 billion. The Stardust Hotel Casino, several downtown properties, Sam's Town, and Coast Casinos are part of the fortune that puts Boyd at number 235. Meanwhile, Phil Ruffin, 69, with real estate holdings that include the New Frontier Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, is ranked 258th with $1.3 billion in assets.

Others on the Forbes 400 with Las Vegas ties are the Mars candy fortune heirs Forrest Edward Mars, Jr., 74, Jacqueline Mars, 66, and John Franklyn Mars, 69, at $10 billion each. They are tied on the list with Kerkorian at number 19. Donald Trump, 59, who entered the Las Vegas market this year with his Trump Towers project off the Strip, sits 83rd with $2.7 billion, and David A. Duffield, 65, of Incline Village and PeopleSoft, is 320th with $1.1 billion.

Twenty-seven people who appear on the list are sports investors or sports franchise owners. Of those, two have Las Vegas interests. At 133rd, H. Wayne Huizenga, 67, who owns the Miami Dolphins and the AutoNation dealerships, has $1.8 billion; Ollen Bruton Smith, 78, owner of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is 207th with a $1.5 billion net worth.

Ralph Siraco is turf editor for the Las Vegas Sun and host of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.