MGM Resorts interested in Atlanta as $1B hotel/casino site
October 05, 2016 9:53 AM
by Robert Mann
On the heels of announcing Monday that it’s $1.5 billion National Harbor resort in Maryland near Washington D.C. would open Dec. 8th, MGM International CEO James Murren told business and civic leaders in Georgia that the resort operator is still interested in Atlanta as the home of a $1 billion plus hotel/casino.
The taxes generated by such a resort could mean needed cash for the state to use to boost the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship program, he said.
Murren’s visit to the Rotary Club of Atlanta came weeks after a study by an education coalition, backed in part by gambling interests, found that the program could face financial challenges in upcoming years despite a record $1 billion funneled into education programs last fiscal year.
Locals view getting state approval for such a project in Atlanta as an “uphill battle.” Opponents range from faith-based groups to some business interests fearful of gambling and its societal effects. Gov. Nathan Deal also has opposed efforts so far.
Murren cited MGM research showing that Georgians spend $600 million a year at casinos outside the state. That money, he said, does not create local jobs or benefit education.
Murren told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview if his company were allowed to operate in Georgia, MGM could spend more than $1.4 billion on "an integrated resort" featuring a casino, hotel, concert hall, restaurants and shopping.
The complex would employ perhaps 4,000 people and complement Atlanta's hospitality industry, he said.
"This is a tremendously appealing market," Murren told the newspaper.