WHERE DID ALL THE HIGH ROLLERS COME FROM? LAS VEGAS’ NEWEST CASINO ADDS MORE VIP GAMING SALONS
Less than four months after it opened, the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is already remodelling. The reason? A larger-than-expected number of high rollers are driving demand for private salons that cater to VIPs.
A major makeover of the casino is underway at the hotel that opened with a casino, four restaurants, a tea garden and 203 hotel rooms.
“We find that we’re doing more business out of the higher-end players than we had originally anticipated,” Lucky Dragon’s chief operating officer, Dave Jacoby, said. “That has sparked some increased focus … on making sure we dedicate enough of our resources to that type of play.”
Jacoby is talking about baccarat, a table game hugely popular in China. High rollers play in exclusive salons, complete with butler service and private dining.
As part of the makeover, Pearl Ocean, one of Lucky Dragon’s two full-service restaurants, will move from the second floor to the first later this year. That will create additional space upstairs for VIP gamblers who relish their privacy. Dragon’s Alley, a self-service eatery just off the main casino floor, already closed to provide extra space as part of the makeover. It will eventually reopen as a small noodle bar.
What’s drawing so many high rollers? Jacoby says the casino’s clients like being at gambling sites with staff who speak their native languages. They also like the casino’s intimate size.
However, David G. Schwartz, Director of UNLV’s Centre for Gaming Research thinks otherwise. He says that although Lucky Dragon may not have the immediate landscape-altering impact of the Strip behemoths that preceded it, but the way the Lucky Dragon is running, it could have profound implications on how Las Vegas casinos do business in the future.
He believes, the biggest change at Lucky Dragon is the rolling chip program initiated for players with a $10,000 or higher buy-in, which changes how players are rated for comps.
It is a Macau idea that has since filtered to Las Vegas but has not been embraced systematically by a Nevada casino until now. Traditionally, a pit boss or other executive will watch table players, estimate their rate of play and average play, then base comps and discounts on that rating. This is an imperfect process that sometimes benefits the player but often doesn’t. According to Jacoby, the rolling chip program eliminates guesswork by tracking play more closely. “If you buy in for $100,000,” he explains, “you get $100,000 in dead chips. You wager what you wager. If you win, we pay in live chips [that can be played elsewhere or redeemed for cash], and we take your dead chips. It ends up being a perfect accounting process.”
Once a player has exhausted his dead chips, he can buy in for more dead chips and continue playing. The result is a more accurate win/loss rating that, according to Jacoby, has already proved popular. “It has been very well received,” he says. “The win/loss is accurate and guests understand how they will get comped before they come in.” Jacoby says that while another Las Vegas property has sporadically offered a rolling chip program for select guests, Lucky Dragon is the first casino to offer it as a matter of course. “We’re doing this several times a day,” he says.
The adoption of this Macau idea and its subsequent popularity may explain why Lucky Dragon is adding VIP space less than four months in. “The volume of VIP gaming,” Jacoby says, “has exceeded our expectations.”
When Lucky Dragon opened last November, Jacoby was targeting middle-class customers, mostly West Coast residents of Asian ancestry instead of people who live overseas.
“We are still getting that mid-range player that we intended to focus on,” he says. “They’re definitely still coming.”
The smallest and most focused Las Vegas casino to open in a long while, Lucky Dragon is a test case for the future of casino design in Las Vegas. The apparently enthusiastic response to its rolling chip program may inspire other casinos to roll out similar programs on a broader basis.
Visit their website here >> Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino
THE NFL IS COMING TO LAS VEGAS
NFL team owners have given the green light to the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas. This paves the way for the building of a new $AUD2.5 billion stadium in Sin City.
The plan by Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has been a driving force behind the relocation, won the support of 31 of the league’s 32 owners, with only the Miami Dolphins ownership dissenting.
It originally looked like a long shot as the NFL is known for being conservative, especially on gambling. The league has even refused to run Super Bowl ads from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. But with Oakland unable to secure taxpayer financing, relocation to Vegas began to look attractive.
The Raiders will play the 2017, 2018 and possibly 2019 seasons in Oakland before relocating to Las Vegas in 2020, Davis said during a news conference after the vote.
“We plan to play at the (Oakland) Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area,” he said.
The relocation plan appeared to be all but dead after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and later Goldman Sachs changed their minds about helping to finance the stadium construction earlier this year.
However, Las Vegas offered $1.2 billion in public funding to build a stadium and cover maintenance costs over the next few decades, which helped sway the decision to move.
The move bolsters efforts by Las Vegas to become a destination for professional sports. An NHL expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, will begin to play next season. And Vegas has long been a host of big-name boxing bouts and UFC matches.
Understandably, the Oakland fans are not happy and there are some prominent American sportscasters who question the viability of the move. Fox Sports Writer Chris Chase has said
“I’m sceptical Vegas will adopt the team like Oakland had. I’m more sceptical the team will be able to draw. Sundays are work days in Vegas. Do they expect tourists to fill the $2.5 billion stadium?”
“NFL games aren’t like Cirque de Soleil — they don’t attract the gawking masses, only the gawking masses in team colours.”
“Can you imagine any tourist — from families on trips to bachelorette parties to conference goers to bros who made the drive from L.A. for a one-night stay — wanting to catch the fountains at the Bellagio, hit the tables at the Venetian, see Britney Spears’ show, pay for bottle service at XS and then go sit in a football stadium watching a team they don’t care about? The whole thing doesn’t jibe.”
“Who’s going to pay hundreds of dollars to go to a football game when the best place to watch football in Las Vegas will still be at the Westgate or any of the other dozens of sports books in town?”
Sources: CNN Money/ Green Felt Journal / news.com.au /