Newest Las Vegas casino to target Chinese middle-class

by William Brown Last Updated
Vegas resort fees draw ire of visitors 

As the Chinese government sends a clear and loud message to the gaming industry about the prohibition of marketing activities in China, the newest casino in Las Vegas has made no mistake about who they are targeting when the newest casino in the gambling mecca of North America opens.

When the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino complex opens off the north end of the Las Vegas Strip with a traditional lion dance on December 3, it will be the first casino resort in the city designed for Chinese visitors. It will also have Mandarin-speaking staff, a luxury tea garden and five Chinese restaurants.

The complex is largely funded by Chinese investors and has been “heavily feng shui’ed”, according to David Jacoby, chief operating officer, who said that Chinese superstitions had been an important consideration.

The owners have left no stone unturned, even leaving the number 4 off room numbers, which is considered unlucky. You won’t find the number in telephone directory and there is no fourth floor between the third and fifth.

The 203 room resort, is small by the standards of some of the behemoths on the strip, such as the 4,408-room Luxor and the MGM Grand, which has 5,690. Nor is it trying to compete for VIPs from China, who have special parlours catering to them in the largest hotels.

The plan is to focus on the vast Chinese and Asian-American middle class, who are arriving in Las Vegas in ever greater numbers but are not a priority for existing resorts at present. “Let them fight over the 1 per cent and let us fight over the remaining 99 per cent,” Mr Jacoby told The Los Angeles Times.

“We’re trying to take (the Asian gaming experience) and bring that front and centre instead of hiding the most valuable customer in a segregated portion of a large building.”

Chinese holiday-makers tend to prefer their native cuisine over other choices so food will be a big part of the pitch so the hotel will offer an unprecedented array of options.

The food options will include live seafood flown in from around the world, dim sum, congee rice porridge, wonton noodles and soups. The Phoenix, a 60-seat restaurant, aims to offer the finest modern Chinese dining in Las Vegas, with dishes such as deer tendon, abalone and Kurobuta pork.

As gambling becomes harder to access in China, last year a record 206,743 Chinese visitors travelled to Las Vegas, almost double the number in 2010, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The record figure will get even higher with the announcement that Hainan Airlines will begin the first direct flights from China to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.

A company that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, Australia’s Crown Resorts, relies heavily on Chinese business and is planning a $US2 billion hotel and casino called Alon Las Vegas.

As has been reported over the past few weeks, there are currently 18 Crown Resorts staff being detained in a Chinese prison awaiting trial for illegally promoting or advertising gambling anywhere within China.

The arrests made to the staff who are part of the gaming group’s sales and marketing team were made following a corruption crackdown by the government in the past two years.

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