Lorenzo Creighton has big plans for the Oxon Hill area of Prince George’s County.
That’s where the chief operating officer and president of MGM National Harbor hopes to build a $900 million casino resort complex. But two other companies are also vying for the license to build a casino in Prince George’s County.
Creighton helms everything from contract negotiations and construction issues to forging relationships in the community and ensuring the project’s success.
Creighton, 60, entered the gaming industry after a vacation to Las Vegas in the early 1980s. He was working in the banking industry in Iowa when he took a trip west.
“And I was so intrigued [with The Flamingo] that I stayed at The Flamingo,” Creighton told The AFRO. “There was a fight that weekend. I think it was Marvis Frazier. (Frazier won) I had two suits and I put on the best one and I said I am going to go up there and find out how to get a job here.”
Creighton never made it to the top office that day, but 20 years later he would be named president of The Flamingo, the first African-American to head a major Las Vegas casino resort.
Creighton was born on Jan. 5, 1953 in Waterloo, Iowa. He graduated from Luther College in 1975 with a Political Science degree. After working for the Iowa Department of Corrections’ Pre-Trial Release Project, he entered the banking industry.
After attending law school at Drake University, he negotiated labor contracts for the state of Iowa before going to work with the Iowa Racing Commission in 1989. As the attorney on staff for the state Racing Commission, Creighton was in charge of writing regulations covering the state’s new riverboat gambling industry. Since he had no gaming experience Creighton traveled to the few venues in the states that allowed commercial gaming and learned all he could about the industry.
He was recruited by the state of Mississippi to be the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and from there was hired to executive positions at a half-dozen casinos in the Midwest, Vancouver, and Las Vegas.
Creighton rejoined MGM in October 2012 to oversee the National Harbor project. Not surprisingly, he said the National Harbor site is the best of the three proposed casino locations including Penn National’s Hollywood Casino Resort at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington and Greenwood Racing’s Parx Casino Hotel and Spa off Indian Head Highway, also in Fort Washington.
The proposed MGM site is about a mile from National Harbor, close to the I-95/I-495 corridor.
“When I looked at that site, it was pretty clear that that site is absolutely one of the best locations in North America for a resort and I use the distinction, a resort, because MGM builds resorts,” said Creighton.
Creighton said the company expects to hire 4,000 people to operate the casino, hotel, spa restaurants and a 1,200 seat theater and $42 million in tax revenue. The percentage of those jobs that will go to Prince George’s County residents has not been determined, he said.
While gambling revenues nationwide were up just 4.8 percent from 2011 to 2012 according to a recent Time article, revenues in Maryland hit an all-time high in August.
“It’s a question of supply and demand,” said Creighton. “The supply in Maryland is limited based on the population figures. And most likely it will level off in Maryland also.”
Howard Stutz, who has covered the gaming industry for nearly a decade for The Las Vegas Review-Journal, supported Creighton’s leadership.
“He brings a lot to the table,” Stutz said. “It’s kind of a plus for MGM to have him because he’s run these big properties and he understands these markets like Detroit, Vancouver. He understands the regional type market.”