MGM has promising plan for casino in PG County
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Maryland’s sixth casino was awarded to MGM Resorts International, which plans a luxury casino-hotel at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, on the doorstep of Washington, D.C.
On Dec. 20, the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission chose MGM instead of projects that two other gaming companies — Penn National and Greenwood Racing — had offered.
The casino is not permitted to open any sooner than mid-2016.
Cynics may point to the fact that MGM provided a considerable amount of financial muscle, reportedly about $40 million, to a successful 2012 statewide referendum that allowed for expanded gaming in Maryland — in particular, live table games for all the state’s gambling halls and a sixth casino to be placed in Prince George’s County.
To round out the picture, Penn National opposed Maryland’s expanded gambling referendum — some observers said it did so to protect its interests at its casino in Charles Town, W.Va. — before joining the chase for the sixth Maryland license.
But to say it’s not a shock that the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission chose MGM in a 5-2 vote is not necessarily to give credence to the skeptical viewpoint, but rather to acknowledge the quality of MGM’s proposed project.
The MGM casino-hotel, with a sleek and modern design evocative of the monuments across the Potomac River, will have the advantages of setting. At National Harbor, it will be part of an already popular waterfront complex of retail, dining, conference space, hotels and condos.
As with any regional casino, the MGM at National Harbor will cater largely to a local clientele. But with the existing infrastructure of the complex where it will reside, as well as D.C.’s natural draw for tourists and conferences, it should pull more out-of-area patronage than the average regional casino.
From Maryland’s point of view, MGM will also import dollars from both D.C. and Virginia. For the time being, it appears that Virginia is steadfast in remaining one of 11 states without casino gaming, and that should be a boon to the Prince George’s County casino and Maryland taxpayers.
MGM’s pedigree is well established. Its Las Vegas portfolio includes the Bellagio, the Mirage and the CityCenter complex on the Strip. At National Harbor, MGM plans a $925 million casino resort with an 18-story, 300-suites hotel; a theater for concerts; restaurants carrying the nameplates of celebrity chefs; a reflecting pool; 3,600 slots; and 140 table games.
In contrast to MGM’s vision, its competitors’ plans had price tags that weren’t as grand.
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