Lucky Dragon hotel set to close Tuesday in Las Vegas

A few weeks before the Lucky Dragon held its grand opening with dragon and lion dancers, a top executive promised big things.

The boutique hotel-casino would be “completely unique, not only in Las Vegas but in the world,” Chief Operating Officer Dave Jacoby said.

Less than two years later, the bankrupt resort is set for a full shutdown.

The Lucky Dragon’s nine-story hotel tower is expected to close Tuesday, several months after its casino and restaurants shut down. The 2.5-acre property is scheduled to come up for sale at a foreclosure auction Oct. 30, county records show.

The Chinese-themed resort at 300 W. Sahara Ave. was the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in Las Vegas since the recession. But it suffered a swift demise.

Its location off the sleepy north Strip didn’t help, some local executives said, and it couldn’t compete with much larger hotel operators for a coveted slice of the tourist market.

‘Flies in the face of Vegas trends’

The 200-plus-room resort featured a small pool area, Asian restaurants and a 27,500-square-foot casino, tiny by Las Vegas standards.

A small boutique property with the right amenities “can do very well” in Las Vegas, said Hard Rock Hotel CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth. But he said the Lucky Dragon’s target customer base of high-roller Chinese gamblers was “very narrow” and “very competitive,” and the hotel and its location would not “attract enough” such visitors to make it a success.

The Hard Rock’s owners were presented with two or three opportunities in the past six months to buy the Lucky Dragon but passed, Bosworth said. He also said he turned down opportunities to lead a construction loan for the project, citing its plan to generate 85 percent of its revenue from gambling.

“That flies in the face of Vegas trends,” he said.

Gambling accounted for 28 percent of the Strip’s total revenues last year, down from 53 percent in 1990, according to Credit Suisse.

Siegel Group founder Steve Siegel, owner of the nearby Artisan hotel, said he was also approached about buying the Lucky Dragon. But he said the hotel is in a “horrible location for what it is” and that it competed for Asian gamblers with big chains such as Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming Corp.

Chinese gamblers at other casinos indicated last year to the Review-Journal that the problem wasn’t Lucky Dragon’s food and entertainment offerings, but its comparatively stingy gaming and comp policy.

Overall, tourists are accustomed to top-flight entertainment and restaurants, so unless a hotel offers something over-the-top, “it’s going to be very difficult to attract people,” said Alex Yemenidjian, former chairman and CEO of the Tropicana.

Also, the Lucky Dragon’s location “certainly didn’t help,” he said.

‘Not an easy answer’

Lucky Dragon bankruptcy lawyer Sam Schwartz, a shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, confirmed the hotel is scheduled to close Tuesday, as was discussed at a court hearing Sept. 20.

Lucky Dragon developer Andrew Fonfa, founder of ASF Realty & Investments, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The hotel was billed as the first newly built, Asian-focused casino in Las Vegas, but there were signs of financial problems before it opened.

Las Vegas City Council members, acting as heads of the city’s redevelopment agency, in November 2015 rejected doling out some $25 million in subsidies that Fonfa’s group wanted for the project.

The developers warned they might have to slow or stop work without the help. It was the first time many city leaders could remember even discussing the possibility of propping up a casino with public funds, the Review-Journal reported.

After it obtained loans from an obscure company linked to San Francisco real estate investor Enrique Landa, the Lucky Dragon opened in November 2016, with its hotel and casino in separate buildings. But it struggled to draw big crowds, temporarily closed its casino and restaurants in January, faced foreclosure and then went bankrupt in February.

Investors buy financially distressed real estate all the time, often figuring they’ll get a steep discount. Siegel, for one, hasn’t walked through the Lucky Dragon and said he isn’t sure what it needs for a turnaround.

“It’s not an easy answer,” he said.

Contact Eli Segall at or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

Lucky Dragon Foreclosure Notice by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like