Md. Picks MGM for New Casino near Nation’s Capital


BALTIMORE (AP) — MGM Resorts International on Friday won a license for a large casino and resort in Maryland near the nation's capital.

A state commission voted 5-2 in favor of Las Vegas-based MGM's proposal to build a $925 million resort near the Potomac River at National Harbor with a 300-suite hotel, casino and seven restaurants. The casino plan includes 3,600 slot machines and 140 table games such as blackjack and roulette.

"I want to build the most beautiful, iconic and successful resort," said Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International. "I think outside of Las Vegas, this will be the most profitable commercial resort in the United States, and I want to bring that here."

Murren said the resort will create 2,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs.

Maryland voters approved a casino in the county last year after lawmakers agreed to expand gambling in a special session. Before the vote, MGM spent about $40 million to help get the ballot question passed, while Penn National spent more than $42 million to defeat the expansion — a move largely viewed as an effort to protect a large casino in West Virginia owned by the company near Maryland's border.

The license is the sixth granted in five years in Maryland, and four casinos have already opened. This casino could not open until July 2016, or 30 months after a casino being built in Baltimore opens. A Harrah's casino there is expected to open next year, not far from where the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens play.

Penn National, based in Wyomissing, Pa., had proposed a $700 million casino at the company's Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County, about 13 miles from Washington. The Hollywood Casino Resort at Rosecroft Raceway would have included slot machines, live table games and a poker room. The plan also included a hotel with a pool and spa and a multipurpose event center. Rosecroft also would have featured horse racing.

Maryland Casino LLC, a subsidiary of Greenwood Racing, proposed the $800 million Parx Casino Hotel & Spa on a 22-acre parcel in Fort Washington with a hotel and entertainment venue. Greenwood Racing owns and operates Pennsylvania's highest revenue-generating casino, Parx Casino.

Don Fry, the chairman of the state's Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, said he believed the amenities at the MGM proposal were stronger.

Commissioners who supported the MGM proposal also said it would raise more money for the state.

"I think that it is truly a destination resort, which is one of the criteria that we take into consideration, and the infrastructure is far superior," Fry said after the vote.

The MGM plan includes a luxury spa and rooftop pool at the hotel. It also includes plans for high-end retail, as well as fine and casual dining. The plan calls for a 1,200-seat theater venue, 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space and a 5,000-space parking structure.

National Harbor already is a 300-acre development of shops and restaurants and waterfront hotels that first started opening in 2008 on the Potomac River across from Washington, where the monuments of the nation's capital are visible from the development's parking garages.

Commissioners expressed concern about economic projections by consultants for Penn National and had questions about transportation infrastructure near the proposed Parx casino. Commissioners also noted that they were pleased with the casino design proposed by MGM. They said MGM also stood better to draw customers because of their casinos in other parts of the country, like Las Vegas.

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Md. Picks MGM for New Casino near Nation's Capital

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