Phil Ruffin

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Phil Ruffin
Born Phillip Gene Ruffin
(1935-03-14) March 14, 1935 (age 82)
Potter County, Texas, near Amarillo
Residence Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Nationality United States
Occupation Businessman
Net worth US$2.6 billion (Forbes 2017)[1]

Lynne A Ruffin
Oleksandra Nikolayenko

Mary Louise Miller, first wife (married and divorced twice )
Children with Lynne A. Ruffin:
--Michelle Ruffin Stein
--Chris Ruffin
--Phil Ruffin Jr.
with Nikolayenko:
--Richard William Ruffin
--Malena Ruffin
Parent(s) Blanche (née Cohlmia) Ruffin
Roy J. Ruffin

Phillip Gene "Phil" Ruffin (born March 14, 1935) is an American businessman. His business interests lie largely in casinos, greyhound racing tracks, oil production, convenience stores, and real estate. Ruffin lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the Forbes 2017 list of the world's billionaires, he was ranked #814 with a net worth of US$2.6 billion.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Ruffin was born in Potter County near Amarillo, Texas, the son of Blanche (née Cohlmia) and Roy J. Ruffin.[2] He is of Lebanese descent (his family's surname was originally "Rufan").[3] He was raised in Wichita, Kansas.[4][5] He has four siblings: Elaine Ruffin Nemer, Roy Ruffin, Jr., Pat Ruffin, and Pam Ruffin.[5] In 1953, he graduated from Wichita North High School where he was a wrestling champion.[4] He attended Washburn University for three years and Wichita State University but never got his degree.[6][7]

In 1972, Ruffin pioneered self-serve gasoline in Kansas, creating a chain of 60 convenience stores in the Midwest. In 1987, he then used cash from the convenience stores to build his first hotel, a Marriott in Wichita. His businesses also included oil distribution and one of the country's largest manufacturers of hand trucks.[8]

In 1994, Ruffin leased his convenience stores to Total, using the money to purchase more hotels. Then, in 1995, Ruffin acquired the Crystal Place casino resort in the Bahamas. Mortgaging the casino, Ruffin then purchased the New Frontier Hotel and Casino.[8]

Personal life and political involvement[edit]

Ruffin's reputation is one of shying away from press coverage and publicity, so many details of his life are not well-documented. Ruffin is currently married to his third wife. His first wife was Mary Louise Miller, they were married and divorced twice. Second wife, Lynne Ruffin; they later divorced and she remarried.[9] He has three children with his first wife: Michelle Ruffin-Stein runs the Wichita Marriott which he owns; his son Chris Ruffin runs his real estate properties; and his son Phil Ruffin Jr. runs Harper Trucks Inc. a hand truck manufacturer.[4] On January 6, 2008 the then-72-year-old Ruffin married the then-26-year-old supermodel and Miss Ukraine 2004 title holder Oleksandra Nikolayenko.[10] They have two children: Richard William Ruffin (born April 2010)[4] and daughter Malena (born 2013).[11]

Ruffin appeared on the 7th season of GSN's High Stakes Poker.

Ruffin is a longtime friend and business partner of Donald Trump, who was the best man at Ruffin's wedding in 2008.[12] According to Trump, Ruffin accompanied him to Russia in 2013 during the former's ownership of the Miss Universe pageant [13]. In 2015, Trump also mentioned Ruffin as a person that he would send as an envoy to China if elected president; Ruffin said later that the remark was a joke.[12] Ruffin loaned Trump his personal 737 BBJ jet to fly to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on August 31, 2016.

Ruffin gave $1 million in 2015 to the Make America Great Again PAC, a super PAC supporting Trump's campaign for the presidency.[12] Ruffin's contribution made up more than half of all of the contributions received by the super PAC ($1.74 million).[12] The super PAC shut down and refunded Ruffin's money after the Washington Post reported on its close association with Trump's campaign.[12] At an event in January 2016, Trump praised Ruffin for making a $1 million donation to veterans' groups.[12]


New Frontier Hotel and Casino[edit]

Ruffin is best known for his purchase of the New Frontier Hotel and Casino, one of the Strip's venerable properties. When he bought the resort from Margaret Elardi and her family, it had been mired in a longtime, sometimes violent strike with the Culinary Workers Union, one of the most powerful unions in Las Vegas. Ruffin settled the strike very soon after his purchase in 1998. Soon after, the casino-hotel became known as the New Frontier.

Ruffin announced plans to demolish the New Frontier and replace it in 2005 with a new resort to be called The Montreaux, but the development never got off the ground.

Ruffin sold the New Frontier to El Ad Properties in 2007. The $1.2 billion sale price for the 36 acres (15 ha) property was the largest per-acre price in The Strip's history.[14]

Treasure Island[edit]

MGM Mirage sold Treasure Island Hotel and Casino to Phil Ruffin. The negotiated price was $600 million in cash and $175 million in secured notes.[15] Ruffin estimates that to build a casino like Treasure Island from the ground up would cost $2.7 billion. The Treasure Island is about 700 yards from the site of his former casino, the New Frontier. In calendar year 2008, Treasure Island reported $376M in revenue (down from $431M in 2007) and $101M in EBITDA.[16] Ruffin expressed his lack of concern about buying a casino in a down market, because the TI will have very little debt. Ruffin took complete ownership of the hotel and casino resort in the early morning of March 20, 2009.

Trump International Tower[edit]

Ruffin's joint venture with friend Donald Trump involved a portion of the New Frontier land. The Trump International Hotel and Tower, built immediately adjacent to the Fashion Show Mall, broke ground in July 2005.[17] The tower opened in March 2008, and plans for an identical second tower have been announced. Ruffin has half interest in the development, having contributed the land for his part of the deal.[18]

Wichita Greyhound Park[edit]

Ruffin's company owns Wichita Greyhound Park. On August 7, 2007, Ruffin announced that he would close the track, after a referendum to allow slot machines or casino gambling as the track failed.[19]

Convenience stores[edit]

Ruffin Companies' web site states that the company owns 61 convenience stores leased to Total and operated by Diamond Shamrock over a three-state area.[20]


Ruffin's Hotel Group division owns and operates 13 hotels under the Marriott Hotels, Fairfield Inn and Courtyard by Marriott brands in Oklahoma, Kansas, California, Texas and Alabama.[21]

Real estate[edit]

Ruffin owns various commercial real estate holdings in Kansas and in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.


Ruffin owns and operates Harper Trucks, the world's largest manufacturer of hand trucks[22] and Angelus Manufacturing, a maker of steel hand trucks.[23] In Dec. 2013 Ruffin purchased the assets of Torrance, CA based WelCom Products, makers of the Magna Cart line of folding hand trucks sold in major retailers across the US and over 25 countries worldwide.


  1. ^ a b "The World's Billionaires (2017 ranking): #722 Phillip Ruffin". Forbes. March 1, 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  2. ^ Texas Birth Index
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d Wichita Eagle: "Vegas a comfortable fit for Phil Ruffin's billions" BY ROY WENZL AND TRAVIS HEYING April 25, 2010
  5. ^ a b In Memory of Blanche Ruffin – Services will be held at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral June 24, 2013
  6. ^ Bloomberg: "CEOs Without College Degrees – Phillip Ruffin" retrieved April 25, 2015
  7. ^ "Billionaires: #606 Phillip Ruffin". Forbes. 2006. 
  8. ^ a b Benston, Liz (April 26, 2009). "An empire built on assets, not debt". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  9. ^ Las Vegas Review: "Lynne Ruffin-Smith" retrieved April 25, 2015
  10. ^ "Phil Ruffin – An American business success story". Hotel & Resort Insider. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  11. ^ Las Vegas Journal-Review: "Ruffin, Trump pals in business, leisure" by NORM CLARKE February 24, 2013
  12. ^ a b c d e f Matea Gold, Longtime Trump friend seeded pro-Trump super PAC with $1 million, Washington Post (February 4, 2016).
  13. ^
  14. ^ Stutz, Howard (2007-05-16). "MORE THAN $1.2 BILLION: New Frontier sale sets record". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
  15. ^ Benston, Liz; Finnegan, Amanda (March 20, 2009). "From MGM to Ruffin: Treasure Island changes hands". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  16. ^ "MGM MIRAGE Supplemental Financial Data March 2009" (PDF). MGM-Mirage. 
  17. ^ "Ruffin Companies: Ground Broken on Trump International Hotel and Tower Las Vegas". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  18. ^ Who Owns Vegas: Ruffin Companies
  19. ^ Laviana, Hurst; Dion Lefler (2007-08-07). "With slots out, Ruffin says he'll close track". The Wichita Eagle. 
  20. ^ "Ruffin Companies: Properties". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  21. ^ "Ruffin Companies: Hotel Group". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  22. ^ "Phil Ruffin to expand Harper Trucks once again with a major account". Wichita Eagle. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Home page". Angelus Manufacturing. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 

External links[edit]