Chinese tourists represent an underserved and untapped demographic in Las Vegas according to the investors behind the forthcoming Resorts World and Lucky Dragon casinos. Gambling revenue in Sin City has rebounded from the US economic recession. Revenues in 2015 clocked in at $6.3 billion, the most since its all-time high of $6.8 billion in 2007.
But gaming and entertainment companies in Nevada remain worried about reaching the next generation of gambler. Some are focusing on the Millennial, but at least two resorts are looking east, way east. Over 6,000 miles from the Strip, Resorts World and Lucky Dragon are preparing to cater to the Chinese tourist.
Vegas’ mega-resorts currently offer specialized services for VIP Chinese gamblers such as specific cuisine and service employees who speak their native language. But the two Asian-themed resorts are going after the general orient.
“We’re playing on the existing market that isn’t served well,” Lucky Dragon COO Dave Jacoby told the Associated Press this week. Jacoby explained that the vast majority of Vegas casinos come with amenities geared towards “American white people.”
For Us, By Us
The Chinese culture understandably likes Asian things, and often flock to areas that recognize their needs while abroad. It’s why so many cities have Chinatowns, but of course that isn’t specific to China.
Italian-Americans create Little Italy communities, Vietnamese form enclaves called Little Saigon, and Japanese immigrants congregate in Little Tokyo. The list of migrants establishing ethnic districts goes on and on. But the Chinese also love to gamble, and in Las Vegas there isn’t a designated home for their bets.
“The Chinese do quite enjoy a very Chinese experience,” Fitch Ratings gambling analyst Alex Bumazhny stated. “They do gravitate toward Asian amenities.”
The Las Vegas Economic Impact Regional Center (LVEIRC), a group led by veteran real estate developer Andrew Fonfa, is building the Lucky Dragon. LVEIRC is largely funding the nine-story hotel and 27,500-square-foot casino through EB-5 investments.
EB-5 is an immigrant investor program that grants foreigners with a green card if they invest $500,000 into a job-creating project. After three years in the US, the investors can apply for permanent citizenship. Jacoby says Chinese residents quickly snagged up the available investments.
The Lucky Dragon casino will emphasis popular games with Chinese tourists such as Baccarat and Pai Gow. Its spa will feature acupuncture and a tea garden, and all five restaurants will be Asian-inspired. The much bigger and much more expensive Resorts World isn’t slated to open until 2019. Backed by the Malaysian company Genting Group, the $7 billion facility will come with 100,000 square feet of gaming space and “an authentic Chinese theme.”
Fast Flight to China
China’s Hainan Airlines is also hoping to soon offer direct flights from Beijing to Las Vegas three times a week. Currently, the closest direct flight to Nevada from Beijing is through Seoul, South Korea. While Resorts World and Lucky Dragon are going after Chinese and Asian tourists, others are too, though in not so direct ways.
eSports is quickly becoming the next big thing in entertainment and gaming. The Downtown Grand Las Vegas already has an eSports lounge. Of the $252 million in 2015 eSports global revenue, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for the largest share at 34 percent.