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Las Vegas Casino Files For Bankruptcy Ahead Of Foreclosure Auction

Asian-Themed Property Hopes For Lifeline With Chapter 11

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Las Vegas Weekly/Steve MarcusThe Lucky Dragon casino just off the Las Vegas Strip has filed for bankruptcy protection.

According to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the casino’s developer put the property into Chapter 11 protection on Friday. The casino is schedule to head to a foreclosure auction on Thursday. Lucky Dragon was the first casino-hotel built from the ground up to open in Las Vegas since the financial crisis of 2008-09.

The bankruptcy filing is intended to help the casino “preserve jobs, pay its creditors and provide certainty to the market,” court papers said.

Lucky Dragon opened in late 2016, equipped with 200 hotel rooms and a 27,500-square-foot casino. Its primary game was baccarat, a strategy developed to cater to its target customer. However, the casino, which did not have a poker room, struggled right out of the gate. Around 100 employees were laid off within a few months of its opening.

Lucky Dragon’s struggles come amid a citywide decline in baccarat winnings. Nevada casinos won $1.15 billion from the game last year, 5.6 percent less compared to 2016. Baccarat revenue has fallen every year since a peak of $1.6 billion in 2013.

Andrew Fonfa, developer of the casino, told Las Vegas Weekly in 2016 that Lucky Dragon would primarily go after one group of customer. “The best player in the world right now is the Chinese gambler,” Fonfa said. “If you take a sample of 200,000 people, with Americans, probably 10 percent are gamblers, but probably 100 percent of Asians are gamblers. It just makes sense to go after this customer. Even if you look at the local casinos here, you see mostly Asian faces gambling. That’s our customer, and we think we’ve really hit on something.”

Dubbed a “boutique” casino, Lucky Dragon’s development team had high hopes for the facility. “I believe our property, per square foot, will be the most successful casino ever built in Las Vegas,” Fonfa said before it opened. About a year-and-a-half later it was in bankruptcy.

The casino ceased its gaming back in early January, but it said at the time that the move was temporary. Lucky Dragon sits slightly off the Las Vegas Strip on Sahara Ave., just south of the Stratosphere. Lucky Dragon also sits near SLS Las Vegas, a casino that has struggled mightily since it opened in 2014. SLS was formerly known as the Sahara casino.