Almost two years to the day since the soft launch of the Asian-themed Lucky Dragon boutique hotel and casino, located just off the Las Vegas Strip, the bankrupt venue failed to attract any bids at auction. Ownership remains with major lender Snow Covered Capital.
The 203-room hotel and adjacent casino was built by developer Andrew Fonfa, the entrepreneur behind the adjacent Allure Las Vegas residential tower.
The Lucky Dragon site was intended to be developed as a sister tower to Allure but the recession intervened and, eight years after the first tower was completed, work began on Fonfa’s plan B – an Asian-themed boutique casino hotel targeted at the local and visiting Asian and American-Asian community.
Fonfa even hoped that the Lucky Dragon would form the nucleus of a new Chinatown for Las Vegas’ Chinese community.
The apparently narrow target demographic raised eyebrows, causing Las Vegas Weekly to dub it “the most specifically focused casino project in the history of Las Vegas.”
Too focused, as it turned out. The visitor numbers didn’t materialise and the $160m venue faltered from the off, with a hundred employees let go in the first six months.
Fonfa filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Feburary, in an attempt to preserve jobs and pay creditors. Many of those creditors were drawn from the very community Fonfa had hoped would provide Lucky Dragon’s footfall with the scheme financed with funds sourced via the US government’s EB-5 scheme, which offered foreign investors the possibility of American residency.
This week’s auction failure represents another nail in the coffin for Lucky Dragon as Snow Covered Capital seeks to recover whatever it can from Fonfa’s money pit.
Even during the bankruptcy case the venue is said to haemorrhaged around $200,000 a month, with Snow Covered Capital stating in court papers that there is “no dispute” the resort had been “a dismal failure.”