A Little Slice of Asia in Vegas

05 Mar 2013 | 03:19 Author: Seth Shafer

Asian gambling giant Genting Group is planning to bring a little slice of Asia to Vegas now that it has bought the abandoned Echelon project.

Malaysia-based Genting Group has agreed to buy the north Las Vegas Echelon property from Boyd Gaming for $350 million, with initial plans to embark on a $7 billion project that will be the first new casino constructed since 2008.

Boyd Gaming halted constuction on the Echelon project in 2008 amid the recession in the U.S., just one of several projects that stalled out in Vegas. The 87 acre site is near the north end of the Strip which is showing signs of life with a project at the old Sahara site also breaking ground.

Genting plans to begin the new Resorts World project in 2014 planning to transform the unfinished building into a series of bronze and glass towers complete with Asian-style red pagodas, lagoons, and fountains.

The purchase price of $350 million was very low by past Vegas standards but any activity is seen as a good sign by many insiders and analysts. Up to 10,000 temporary jobs could be created during construction with several thousand permanent jobs remaining once the new casino is operational.

The Asian themed casino will be a twist on recent trends that have seen U.S. casinos such as Las Vegas Sands and Wynn build Vegas-style casinos in Macau and Singapore. Genting plans to reverse that trend by bringing an Asian-style casino to Vegas, hoping to cater to many of the Asian tourists and gamblers that come to Vegas every year.

Nevada politicians hailed the deal as a sign that Las Vegas' fortunes are turning, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval joining Genting Chairman KT Lim in announcing the new project.

Revenues in Las Vegas has recovered somewhat from the lows during the recession but they remain far off their highs from the mid-2000s.

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