The Lucky Dragon Casino Is Designed to Cater to Chinese Mass Market Gamblers
The Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is the first American casino designed to attraced Asian gamblers. The Lucky Dragon, which is set to open on December 3, was funded in large part by investors from China. The casino uses Chinese themes and features Asia’s most popular casino game, baccarat, but the property’s Asia-friendly theme goes well beyond those amenities.
The staff and signage at the Lucky Dragon is bilingual, providing communication in English and Chinese. The complex offers a luxury tea bar like those found in China. The restaurants do not necessarily offer the kind of Chinese-American food you would expect from an US-based Chinese restaurant. Instead, the food selections are more like the eateries in Guangzhou and Shanghai.
David Jacoby Describes Authenic Chinese Dining
David Jacoby, CEO of the Lucky Dragon, told the Los Angeles Times the menu is going to be authentic Chinese. He quipped, “No General Tso’s or egg rolls here.”
The 203-room boutique hotel and resort provides a number of other features that westerners would never consider. For instance, it is hard to find examples of the No. 4 around the complex.
The number four is considered unlucky in China and other parts of Asia. It’s like the American buildings which are built without a 13th floor. You won’t find a 4th floor at the Lucky Dragon.
Casinos and Feng Shui
The developers made other attempts to make the casino lucky. A feng shui master was hired to bless the kitchens. David Jacoby said, “This place is heavily feng shui’ed.”
The main bar in the casino is eight-sided, which should bring it good fortune. The entire property uses the dragon motif. Unlike in the west, Chinese dragons are considered lucky.
Bill Weidner Brings His Expertise
The mastermind behind those various touches is not some mastermind from Beijing or Shanghai. Instead, it is Bill Weidner, the former president and COO of Las Vegas Sands.
Weidner is given a great deal of credit for Las Vegas Sands Corp’s entry into the Chinese gaming market. Back in 2004, Macau was a former Portuguese colony for only 5 years. The special administrative district was opening its casino monopoly to foreign operators.
Weidner’s Experience in China
In that time, Bill Weidner worked closely with powerful Chinese government officials at the national and local level to bring casino gambling to Macau. In particular, Weidner helped Las Vegas Sands Corp gain entry into Macau, where it built the Venetian Macau.
The Venetian Macau became the most profitable casino in the most profitable gambling destination in the world. Macau’s rise turned Las Vegas Sands Corp from a second-tier gaming operator in Las Vegas into the world’s biggest casino company. Sheldon Adelson, LVS’s founder and CEO, became the 8th-richest person in the world, with an estimated $38 billion in 2013.
Macau’s casino industry has had a decline since then, but it still generates more than twice the gaming revenues of Las Vegas. In many ways, that decline is one of the reasons Lucky Dragon Casino makes sense. The junket operator system which fueled Macau’s rise has been dismantled by President Xi Jinping’s corruption probes. The high rollers who once peopled Macau casinos do not go there in the numbers they once did. They might wish to gamble in Las Vegas instead.
Chinese Gamblers in Las Vegas
Macau’s issues are not the main reason Lucky Dragon makes sense. For years, Las Vegas casinos have been generating more and more revenues from Asian gamblers. The baccarat revenues have gone up every year, as casinos continue to install more baccarat tables on the floor. The growing wealth of China affects the casino industry on a global scale.
As for Bill Weidner, he’s been looking for a new project. After the Macau venture, Weidner helped Las Vegas Sands developer the massive $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. In 2009, though, he left Las Vegas Sands Corp in a bitter dispute.
Appeling to the Chinese Mass Market
Weidner and Jacoby understand that the Venetian Las Vegas, MGM Grand, and Wynn Las Vegas already fight for Asian high-rollers. They are not fooling themselves that Lucky Dragon is entirely new in Las Vegas.
Instead, they hope to capture the Chinese mass market gamblers with an Asia-friendly stop at the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. They want to market to the Chinese middle class, which wants to use its new wealth to explore the world.
David Jacoby said of the mainstream, America-friendly casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, “Let them fight over the 1% and let us fight over the remaining 99%.“
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