Lucky Dragon Now Facing Foreclosure And The Auction Block

Written By Martin Derbyshire on January 23, 2018
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Las Vegas’ Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino started 2018 by temporarily closing all gaming and restaurant operations. Now its facing foreclosure and the auction block.

In fact, the Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting the the off-Strip boutique-style casino resort designed to create an authentic Asian cultural and gaming experience received a default notice in September. Now, Clark County records show it is scheduled to go up for sale at a Feb. 6 foreclosure auction.

The default notice was in connection with a $90 million loan Lucky Dragon developer Andrew Fonfa took out in the spring of 2016 after construction on the project had already begun. According to the foreclosure auction notice,Fonfa still owes $48.9 million on the loan. Snow Covered Capital, a company linked to San Francisco real estate investor Enrique Landa of Associate Capital, initially issued the loan.

Lucky Dragon hotel still open

For now, Lucky Dragon’s 203-room hotel remains open, as does its gift shop. Room service and morning tea and coffee are available to guests. Plus, Lucky Dragon’s Cha Garden indoor and outdoor tea garden and lounge remains open. It currently features a full-service bar at night and an extended menu.

However, the 27,500 square-foot Nevada casino and the remaining restaurants on the Lucky Dragon property are all closed.

The last official word from company executives remains a statement that casino and restaurant operations were closing to allow Lucky Dragon to undergo a reorganization over the first six months of 2018. However, the company hoped the reorganization would pave the way towards new partnerships. Plus, it hoped those partnerships would enhance the property’s long-term positioning and providing better guest experiences.

Lucky Dragon struggles

Lucky Dragon held a soft opening in November 2016. It’s official grand opening went off on Dec. 3, 2016. A large number of members of US west coast’s large Asian community attended the festivites. However, the property was only fully operational for a little over a year before the reorganization was announced. It seems the members of the Asian community it was built for stopped showing up.

Lucky Dragon sits across from the Allure Las Vegas high-rise condominium on West Sahara Avenue, just off the Las Vegas Strip. When it was open, Lucky Dragon’s casino featured 300 slot machines and 37 table games, with a focus on games that are popular in Asia. This included mostly Baccarat and Pai Gow Poker tables. Traditionally popular casino games like Blackjack were available, but only in limited numbers compared to the Asian games.

Fonfa’s initial plans for the property was to build a second Allure condo tower. However, he decided a hotel and casino was a better option in the economic climate of the day.

Fonfa’s initial casino plan was to build a resort catering to gay and lesbian people. However, he shifted gears and went public with the plan for the Chinese-themed Lucky Dragon in February 2012. Construction began in May 2015.

Local Chinese gamblers pass

The property’s struggles were well documented after its December 2016 opening. In March 2017, 100 employees were let go because Lucky Dragon did not have the customer base to support the jobs. Additionally, the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper reported in December 2017 the casino and restaurants were empty most of the time.

The local Chinese gamblers Lucky Dragon tried to draw through extensive advertising and marketing campaigns complained the property’s gaming and comp policy were on the stingy side. Lucky Dragon’s management team said its gaming and comp policy was similar to that of other Las Vegas casinos. Either way, the customer base Lucky Dragon was banking on chose not to frequent the establishment. Now, it’s facing foreclosure.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire is an award-winning journalist, video and film producer with a decade of experience covering the brick and mortar casino, poker and iGaming industries. He has produced content for top media outlets including PokerNews, Bluff Magazine and PokerListings, and has crossed the globe scooping stories and interviewing major players in all corners of the high-stakes gambling world.

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