MGM, PENN still battling for Maryland casino license

May 13, 2013 6:38 PM

The real battle took place last November with MGM Resorts International (MGM) and Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) spending a combined $90 million in attempts to influence Maryland voters.

MGM won.

Now the two gaming giants are battling again over plans for a casino…a casino that will take up Maryland’s sixth and last casino license.

Penn National, owners of the harness track, Rosecroft Raceway, fought MGM’s plans to build a casino in National Harbor, a Prince George’s County office and hotel complex that sits 10 miles south of Washington, D.C.

Its plan, says Penn National, is to build a $700 million casino on the racetrack site that is 13 miles south of the nation’s capital. It would integrate a casino with the racing activities. Plans call for live table games, a hotel with a pool and spa, entertainment and restaurants.

Favored MGM’s plans call for an $800 million casino/entertainment complex on a 20-acre site. The casino floor would house about 200 table games and 4,000 slot machines. They would be surrounded by restaurants and entertainment venues. If granted approval, company officials said, it could be in operation by 2016.

An estimated 2,000 construction jobs would be created, MGM said, as some 4,000 permanent jobs would be added to the locale when the casino opens.

MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren remarked, “An MGM property at National Harbor would be designed and operated at the same level as the company’s other hotels, including Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, ARIA and The Mirage.”

Despite MGM’s Maryland victory, competition continues between these two companies. Both have proposed casino operations in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in Toronto, Canada.

Over the weekend, the two battlers found out they are not alone in seeking this lone license. Maryland Casino LLC, a subsidiary of Greenwood Racing, is proposing to build an $800 million casino on a 22-acre parcel in Fort Washington. A hotel would accompany the casino.

Greenwood Racing, with roots in the U.K., operates a thoroughbred racetrack and casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, and has a partnership in a harness racetrack in New Jersey.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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