Failed Lucky Dragon Casino Resort Sold for $36 Million


A buyer for the shuttered Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino in the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip has finally been found after several unsuccessful attempts for the property to be sold to a new owner who would hopefully reopen it

Las Vegas businessman Don Ahern bought the property for $36 million. The deal was sealed this past Monday by San Francisco developer Enrique Landa’s Snow Covered Capital LLC, the primary lender of the failed complex. The company took over the property last October after it got zero acquisition bids at a foreclosure auction.

Lucky Dragon’s new owner is known to be the Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas construction equipment company Ahern Rentals.

Mr. Ahern confirmed the purchase of the closed casino resort on Monday and said that he would re-open it as a non-gambling hotel. The building that used to accommodate Lucky Dragon’s casino floor would be transformed into a conference and convention facility, the businessman noted.

Lucky Dragon’s Demise

Lucky Dragon opened doors in November 2016 as an Asia-themed boutique hotel and casino resort in the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. The property was the first to be built from the ground up in the city in many years. It targeted Chinese high rollers with dedicated offering. The resort featured two buildings – a nine-story hotel tower with 203 rooms and suites and a casino facility with diverse gambling offering.

However, heavy financial issues plummeted the property into a downward spiral that it could not escape from.

Signs that Lucky Dragon had problems emerged even before the property’s opening. At one point, the resort’s developer, businessman Andrew Fonfa, warned that the issues were so serious that they might force them to slow down or even stop construction work.

The developer asked the Las Vegas City Council for $25 million in subsidies that would have helped the Lucky Dragon project to be finalized. City officials rejected that request.

The resort was launched late in 2016 to big fanfare, but records showed that it never managed to gain momentum and attract the clientele it was designed for. Property owners announced in early 2018 that they were forced to close the casino portion of the complex as well as its dining facilities.

The hotel tower remained operational until early October. Over the nine months between the closure of the casino and the hotel, the property filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and failed to find owners that would be able to save it from its demise.

Lenders eventually foreclosed on Lucky Dragon in late October.

Lucky Dragon’s Future

The property’s new owner said Monday that he intends to relaunch it as a non-gambling hotel. Mr. Ahern also revealed that he “absolutely will not keep” the Lucky Dragon name. The businessman is yet to decide on a new name, though.

The separate casino building will be remodeled into a conference and convention facility, it also became known. Mr. Ahern did not provide a timeline for the property’s overhaul and eventual opening.

Commenting on Lucky Dragon’s sale, Mr. Landa said that it is a “terrific property with a bright future.” In previous comments on the resort’s unfortunate fate, the businessman has pointed out that it was a “very-well built property” but was operated under the wrong business model.

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