Lucky Dragon Seeks Public Bailout After Awkward Shortfall

Clear out your sad trombone’s spit valve, the Lucky Dragon hotel-casino project is running out of cash.

A few days ago, we popped by to check out the latest developments at Lucky Dragon, but, oh, so much has happened since then.

Lucky Dragon

Exciting, right? Buzz, meet kill. Keep reading.

When we first heard about Lucky Dragon, a new Asian-themed, boutique hotel near the north end of The Strip, lots of red flags went up.

The project would rely heavily on EB-5 financing, where foreign investors contribute capital (at least $500,000) to American businesses and in return can earn a U.S. visa.

Lucky Dragon raised $60 million this way, enough to get the project off the ground, and it’s made impressive progress. Enough progress, in fact (the hotel was topped off in Sep. 2015), to make this blog prematurely proclaim the Lucky Dragon could actually be a thing.  This blog is not unfamiliar with prematurity, trust us.

Update: What in the hell were we thinking?

Lucky Dragon hotel-casino

Interesting fact: In some Asian cultures, the number four is considered bad luck. We’re thinking this must also apply to “foresight” and “forethought.”

While some other Las Vegas projects have done well with EB-5 financing, it appears Lucky Dragon isn’t one of those.

Lucky Dragon has now come hat-in-hand to the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency for a public subsidy, something called tax increment financing, or TIF. Presumably, getting the $25 million public subsidy would then trigger an additional $30 in funds from a bank, First Foundation Bank. Read more.

Lucky Dragon casino

Stuff is happening at Lucky Dragon. The question is who’s paying for the rest of the stuff?

What it all comes down to is Lucky Dragon made a financial leap of faith and began building without all the needed financing in place.

This move has SkyVue observation wheel written all over it. In case you missed it, that particular pie-in-the-sky project didn’t end well.

Lucky Dragon reps claim if funds aren’t received, “they’ll be forced to cease all development activity,” so we’d place a hefty wager there are any number of Asian investors scrambling to translate the letters “WTF” right about now.

Lucky Dragon casino Vegas

Lucky Dragon, please become a reality so we can skip ahead to the stories about your struggling due to the challenging location, thanks.

Please, Lucky Dragon, get your act together. Don’t punish us for optimism. Open in 2016, with your casino and your restaurants and your pool and your lounges and your spa, even though we’ll never go to the spa, but that’s not the point.

Open in 2016, Lucky Dragon, and we’ll even forgive your shady “Give us our tax increment financing or we’re taking our casino and going home!” tactics.

Because the last thing the north end of the Las Strip needs is a partially-completed, abandoned shell of a hotel. Fountainbleu Las Vegas already called dibs on that.

Update (11/18/15): The Las Vegas City Council has rejected Lucky Dragon’s subsidy request. Hey, it can’t hurt to ask.


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    Gah. Kinda have to hope the city or some other financing comes through or the north end of the Strip past Encore will look like more like a boneyard than a viable resort option.

    Along (hopefully) more optimistic lines, is there any construction going on at Resorts World?

    • Resorts World progress has been slow, but there’s been work done on the parking garage. It’s something!

  • Graham Moody

    You surely have to think that this is either a bluff, or that if it isn’t and they don’t get the public money (which personally I think they shouldn’t, but as an Englishman in London it’s definitely not for me to say!), then somebody will either step in to finance it or just buy it out.

    Financing/buying this out of difficulty in 2015/6 seems like an infinitely more attractive prospect than the 4000 ghost rooms at FB in 2009, even factoring in possibly being loss making for a while until that end of the Strip really starts getting built up.

    • It sounds like a Hail Mary, and I suspect the funds will magically appear soon.

  • Rooster

    Now that’s what the North end of the strip really needs; another partially completed abandoned casino.

    Because…well…you know…It just doesn’t have enough of those right now.

    • I suspect they’ll rustle up the money somehow, but yeah, not the smartest move in Vegas resort history.

  • NHBill603

    No Welfare for Casinos!

  • David W Macchia

    It seems like Nevada needs to be doing a better job of making sure developers have the funds needed to complete a project before they are permitted to break ground. When this project is completed I will be interested to see how many foreign nationals are walking around with missing fingers and carefully hidden tattoos. Yea I’m saying this project smells dirty but hey, new property.

    • You have no idea. The EB-5 program is seeping into a number of projects in Las Vegas, and it’s very difficult to determine who’s investing, what’s been promised to the investors, and how funds are being used. On the trail of a very suspicious case involving a chain of restaurants at the moment. Stay tuned.

  • Rudy Joggerst

    man I feel bad for the golden steer having this unfinished property next door. hope they’ll resume work soon.

    • Work continues, but for how long, nobody seems to know.