Lucky Dragon Looks to Make its Mark on the Strip

A number of the biggest American casino companies like MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts have expanded businesses into China and now it looks like China might be moving in on some of their territory. The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino is opening up shop in Las Vegas this week and they're targeting a market the Americans may have overlooked.

The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino, which is located at the north end of The Strip, plans on opening its doors on Friday and it definitely isn't like the Sands or the Wynn. It is quite small by today's casino standards as it is 27,500 square feet. The hotel has 204 rooms spread over nine floors. The plan is for the Lucky Dragon to focus on what it considers the middle class of Chinese gamblers that they expect to make more trips to the United States as the casinos in Macau seem to be focusing on the high rollers, or the VIPs.

Remember that the American brands saw a huge opportunity in Macau knowing just how much the Chinese love to gamble. What they didn't expect was a gambling crackdown by the government and a significant slowdown in traffic. With Macau's star fading, businesses like The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino believe that Chinese players will make the journey to the United States to play.

One of the biggest hurdles to making the trip should be eased started Thursday as Hainan Airlines plans on starting direct flights from China to Las Vegas. The thinking from the Lucky Dragon is that many of those middle-class gamblers that Macau seems to have forgotten about will make the trip so they can get more bang for their buck. And they're not the only ones getting in on this action as Malaysian Resorts World is also building a smaller casino where the Stardust used to be. They are currently planning to open their Chinese-themed resort in 2019.

Baccarat is the preferred game of Chinese high rollers, even though the Chinese government has tried to crack down on these special VIP rooms in Macau, and now the hotels in Vegas has welcomed those rooms and players with open arms. If you're thinking that this might be just a trend or a fleeting fad, then take a look at the cold, hard numbers. Baccarat is now the most popular table game on The Strip, replacing blackjack. The numbers from 2015 are staggering: baccarat brought in almost $1.3 billion on the Strip while blackjack's revenue was just over $836,000, even though there were more than four times the number of blackjack tables to baccarat tables.

This should spark a change in the gambling landscape stateside as the Sands and the Wynn, along with MGM Resorts, have definitely moved their attentions to Macau. A few years ago, Steve Wynn even said that more than half of his company's revenue from table games came from Asia. However, that means that they haven't been paying as much attention to Las Vegas as they probably should have and the Lucky Dragon, along with the other casinos that are coming, are looking to cut into that chunk of change.