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AC expansion plan no mirage to MGM

Jul 30, 2002 12:42 AM

MGM Mirage is happy to be a player in Atlantic City and plans to expand its role.

The gaming giant last week re-affirmed its intention to file for construction permits in late fall for a proposed $1.5 billion casino resort, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

The plan is for the Las Vegas-based corporation to break ground in September 2003 on a major hotel of between 1,500 and 2,000 rooms on a 55-acre site in the city’s Marina District.

"We’re very comfortable with our pace," said John Redmond, CEO of the company’s MGM Grand Resorts Division. "We’re happy with the progress we have been making. The project is going to be very large."

MGM Mirage was buoyed in its decision by record second half earnings and the demise of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey’s proposed tax on Atlantic City casino giveaways.

MRC needs proof

Several members of the Maryland Racing Commission want assurances that promised upgrades to Pimlico and Laurel Park will be made before voting to approve a $117.5 sale to Magna.

The entertainment corporation wants to purchase the racetracks and add slot machines at Maryland’s two most famous thoroughbred venues.

The MRC also asked for guarantees in past purchases. The commission wanted a $500,000 bond for extensive repairs to Ocean Downs, a harness track in Ocean City that William Rickman wanted to buy.

Among the requests issued to Magna were improved backstretch conditions, a guarantee that the Preakness Stakes would never leave Maryland, a new turf course for Laurel, 220 days of live racing per year and a partnership with Colonial Downs in Virginia.

Two for Texas

The state of Texas officially shut down its second major casino last week when the Houston area site owned by the Alabama-Coushatta reservation went out of business.

Several months ago the state ordered the Tigua tribe to shutdown its gaming facility near El Paso. The Coushattas have pledged to take the fight to the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Houston casino was modest in size, featuring 350 slots machines and several table games. It opened last November and averaged between 3,500 and 4,000 customers per day.

Biloxi sets limits

The Mississippi coast city of Biloxi is considering a proposal to put limits on the size of casino hotels, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report.

The city’s tallest building is the Imperial Palace casino at 323 feet. The ordinance would affect areas zoned for casinos, which currently have no limitations.