Chinese investors in shuttered Vegas casino demand refunds

Developers and former managers of Asian-themed Lucky Dragon casino-hotel that was built, open for a year, closed and recently sold in Las Vegas are now facing investor lawsuits.

Some plaintiffs are Chinese investors seeking refunds amid complaints they haven’t gained conditional immigration admission to the United States through the federal EB-5 immigration program, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“Losing your money is awful,” Southern California immigration lawyer Bernie Wolfsdorf told the newspaper, “on the other hand, if you don’t get a green card, that’s double punishment.”

Bankruptcy records show the biggest group of Lucky Dragon investors sought visas through the EB-5 program, the newspaper said. The program lets foreigners obtain a green card for themselves and their families if they invest at least USD500,000 in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs, among other requirements.

Immigration attorneys say investors can lose both their money and their chance at a green card if the project goes under, but they might still get permanent residency if the business creates enough jobs.

Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute office at New York University School of Law, said the Lucky Dragon sale has “kept alive the possibility” of the investors getting green cards.

The nine-story, 200-room casino-hotel just off the Strip was the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in Las Vegas since the recession. It opened in November 2016 and closed in January 2018 after aiming to attract Asian gamblers but struggling to draw crowds.

About $126.7 million was spent building the Lucky Dragon, and the resort generated about $35.2 million in revenue its first year of operations. That was just 22 percent of projections, according to a bankruptcy court filing last year by attorneys for most of the EB-5 investors.

About $89.5 million of investor funds was used for construction and operations, and nearly $9 million was spent on administrative fees to the developer, according to bankruptcy records. DB/AP

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