By Brigette White, Special to the AFRO

On July 15, MGM National Harbor casino, hotel and entertainment complex opened its $48 million expansion.  The enlarged casino competes with Maryland Live Hotel and Casino in Anne Arundel County, which recently added a 310-room hotel and now stands as the county’s tallest building.

State regulators report that June revenue at the MGM casino totaled $59 million, compared to $48 million at Live.

Melonie Johnson is the new president of MGM National Harbor Casino. The casino, hotel and entertainment complex opened its $48 million. (Courtesy Photo)

The Live Casino reported a 15.1 percent increase in revenue from 2017 to $48.2 million, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. The Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore had about $22.8 million in revenue, up 2.2 percent. Together, all the Maryland casinos reported a 14.1 percent increase in 2017.

The higher than anticipated demand called for the proposal to add off-track horse betting in affiliation with the Maryland Jockey Club, 262 slot machines, a larger poker room, dining and bar options to the second floor and an expansive new terrace overlooking the Potomac River.

Melonie Johnson, an African American woman, who is the casino’s new president and chief operating officer, said MGM was able to tap unused space for the expansion, according to the {Baltimore Sun}.

“We thought this is going really well, so let’s add space,” Johnson said. “We never anticipated the volume we’d have at this property.”

The casino is drawing the attention of visitors from around the country although most of the  gamblers are from the Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Another attraction to the harbor is the 3,000-foot theater, with headliners including Cher, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson this summer.

Johnson said the growth allows the casinos to contribute more to state reserves. The MGM casino is now the largest taxpayer in Prince George’s County, contributing more than $170 million to the Education Trust Fund.

In addition to the money for the Education Trust Fund, casinos have generated $177 million for local community impact grants and $47 million for small and minority-owned businesses, according to the 2017 Maryland spending affordability interim report.