In Nevada, some 178 foreign investors who each stumped up approximately $550,000 to help bring The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino to the north end of the Las Vegas Strip could reportedly be set to lose the entirety of their outlay as well as a shot at permanent ‘green cards.’
City’s first Asia-facing casino:
According to a Tuesday report from the Bloomberg news service, the $165 million Las Vegas venue opened in November of 2016 as the city’s first specifically designed for Asian gamblers. The 203-room property featured signs in Chinese alongside multilingual staff and a tea garden while its 30,000 sq ft casino offered games popular in the Far East such as baccarat and pai gow.
Development struggled after opening:
However, the development soon found it difficult to attract guests, which was not helped by a less-than-ideal location alongside its lack of a customer loyalty program. Despite support from high-profile names such as the former President for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, William Weidner, the venue was purportedly further hurt after its rivals began upping their marketing spend towards Asian players.
Bloomberg reported that all of this came to a head in January when The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino closed its gaming floor while the entire property is now expected to be sold off later today via a bankruptcy auction. This could leave the foreign investors, who had backed the project under the EB-5 program, out of pocket financially and unable to obtain permanent residence visas in the United States.
Invested under EB-5 program:
The news service reported that the EB-5 ‘green card’ scheme has been around since 1990 and allows foreign nationals to legally immigrate to the United States if they can show that they have created local jobs…
Despite stumping up a combined $98.45 million to help bring The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino to life, only one of the investors has so far purportedly been granted permanent residency status while the property’s bankruptcy could now preclude the remainder from following.
Lawyer remains ‘hopeful’:
Ryan Works, an attorney for some of the investors, reportedly told Bloomberg that he is now hoping that any new owner of The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino will allow his clients to retain some interest in the property so that they can take advantage of the EB-5 scheme.
Works to Bloomberg…
“I’m hopeful we can preserve some equity for these folks but also I’d like to see the immigration process succeed for all the investors.”
Second recent controversy:
The news service reported that the failure of The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino represents the second recent controversy surrounding the EB-5 program and its use in funding casino projects. Bloomberg detailed that the $415 million renovation of the nearby SLS Las Vegas had resulted in similar immigration difficulties after the struggling property was eventually sold to real estate firm Meruelo Group.
In asking President Donald Trump to alter the EB-5 scheme, Chuck Grassley, the senior United States Senator for Iowa, recently proclaimed that the program had become ‘riddled with fraud’ while the SLS Las Vegas investors have taken their to dispute to court by filing a lawsuit against the former owner of the property, Stockbridge Capital Group.