Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Closed (Well, most of it.)
This year was a break for me. Work changes, life changes, and family roles just shifted tectonically. And not to get into details, the major change was that we…the traditional Christmas Generic Family…decided that we’d do our own thing this year. 2017 became Treat Yo’Self Xmas. My treat, a trip with a good friend to Las Vegas. Also, my first in over a year, a year in which a LOT had changed…so much, in fact, I had lost track.
But part of the trip that was critical to me was to check out, now that it was finally open and seemed to be a gem in the rough, the Lucky Dragon. I talked up the visit to the joint the entire trip to my friend. Intimate casino, catered crowd, boutique hotel, food that might rival the best Asian in the country (wrong…Arcadia always wins), and best of all…free parking. He shrugged (trust me, not a casino geek) and said sure. And along we went.
The first thing I noticed was that getting into the casino is easy from a self-park standpoint. Too easy. Super good easy. In, parked, casino…5 minutes. Only once we were in did it become evident that there were problems. Big ones.
Arriving on the mezzanine, we looked down onto the small jewel of a casino and Pagoda-esque bar at its center. It was gorgeous, dragon chandelier above. But something was missing. Glaringly so, especially as it was Christmas Day and the strip casinos we were inhabiting were packed. There, amongst the tables and machines were NO patrons. None. Zero. And then things made sense.
When I arrived in Vegas, I did my usual masochistic habit in that I drove the strip from north (Sahara) to south (Mandalay Bay as we were staring at Delano for the first leg of the stay). I was thrilled to see the Dragon, finally open. What I saw was…not good. Red glass lit aside, LED lights crossing the Casino building were pulsating when they worked. The top of the hotel tower, white and clad with the logo of the hotel, was unevenly lit by many burnt out lights. I remarked, in a later ironically true way, that maybe the gamble hadn’t paid off. Boy was I right.
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Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts
The problem with the Lucky Dragon isn’t the design or amenities in my opinion, but death by a thousand paper cuts. First…while the casino is small, it was WAY too heavily skewed to Asian gaming in a town where there are more than enough joints that offer authentic Asian gaming. Three pits seemed to be exclusively baccarat tables with few patrons if any. The blackjack pit was deader than roadkill on the 15. Slots and their comp club were the same. There was no interest.
Then there was dining. The Alley was closed, save Manila Mondays cause…yeah. Then there was Bao Now peppered with a handful of patrons. Upstairs we found a dead bar, closed spa, Phoenix closed, and Pearl Ocean with the only line in the place. Or was it Phoenix, who knows. It was still dead.
The Dragon, dead as it seems to be, still is operating the hotel though, and it seemed nice enough from my walkthrough. Red glass aside (PINK ROOMS DURING THE DAY!!!) there’s enough good to keep posting a profit there. Enough for the management to keep it open while they finally, mercifully shuttered the rest of the operation last week. And I’ll admit, I wanted this place to win, but when you’re sabotaging yourself…there’s no winning. Vegas isn’t Macau. Encore taught us that, and the Lucky Dragon nailed the final piece of the idea’s coffin into place.
I hope something can be salvaged of the dream that died as the Lucky Dragon v1. But, ultimately, unless there is a radical reinvention…I see vultures. And not deliciously cooked into dumplings after some kick ass gaming.