Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn was spending two hours each day on Chinese lessons back in 2006. True, Mr. Wynn is of retirement age, and already worth a couple of billion dollars.

But at the time, the Wynn Macau -- Mr. Wynn's latest megacasino -- was just getting set to open just off the coast of China. That's right on the doorstep of some 3 billion potential customers.

Big bets for big paydays?
In hindsight, perhaps that looks like a waste of time. After all, the business climate in Macau has since suffered from a slowing global economy and visa restrictions imposed by mainland China. Yet Mr. Wynn's next project in Macau -- the Encore -- remains on track to open in 2010. And competitor Melco Crown is quite happy to be opening its City of Dreams resort early in 2009.

In fact, while there will be near-term difficulties, Macau's proximity to China, and the economic growth that continues on that side of the world, lead both of these companies to expect that Macau will be a very good long-term bet. That's also true of Harrah's (NYSE:HET), which just this month announced its first project on the island.

And at Motley Fool Global Gains, we agree.

We're not the only ones
There are hundreds of companies -- many of them American icons -- that continue to believe that the greatest growth over the next decade will come from the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America. Take Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), for example. Both continue to expand in China, and recently, their international segments boosted earnings.

Then there's Verizon (NYSE:VZ), which is also aggressively pursuing growth abroad. It partnered with China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) and started a joint venture in India this year.

The question we have to ask
Each one of these companies has a clear emerging-markets strategy. The question is -- and you had to know I was coming around to this -- do you?

We think every investor needs to have intelligent exposure to China, Latin America, and the rest of the emerging world. If you're looking to do just that, one place I'm set to start is at our Global Gains international investing service. You can see our top stocks for new money now by joining free for 30 days. Just click right here.

This article was originally published on Jan. 19, 2007 as "Here's What the Billionaires Are Buying." It has been updated.

Tim Hanson owns shares of Wynn Resorts, Melco, and Starbucks. Melco is a Global Gains recommendation. Starbucks is an Inside Value and a Stock Advisor selection. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. No Fool is too cool for disclosure.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.