The US gaming market was surprised this week by the announcement that Genting Group it is to buy the site of Boyd Gaming’s aborted Echelon resort complex on the Las Vegas Strip for $350 million and invest at least $2 billion in its development. Industry observers had not expected any significant projects to be built in the city for another few years. Christian Goode, Genting’s senior vice president of development, believes that the expansion of the middle classes in China and their experience of gambling in the Asian region will fuel desire to travel to other locations, with Las Vegas an obvious destination. Kuala Lumpur-based Genting has an advantage in attracting Chinese customers, operating casinos in Singapore and Malaysia, but does not have a base in Asia’s biggest gaming market, Macau. Plans for the Echelon site include 3,500 hotel rooms, a convention center and a 4,000-seat theater. Genting also wants to create a live panda habitat, a replica of the Great Wall of China, a 7.5-acre indoor water amusement park, tea gardens and other family-friendly attractions.