Greenwood Racing casino proposal receives mixed response -- Gazette.Net



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Greenwood Racing received mixed support for its proposed casino Wednesday as some lauded the company for its potential to bring economic growth to Prince George’s County while others lamented the casino being located near a historic district.

“The development is totally incompatible with the nearby historical district,” said Fort Washington resident Richard Krueger, president of The Conservancy of Broad Creek.

The conservancy oversees the Broad Creek Historic District, a community located next to Greenwood Racing’s proposed casino site.

Greenwood Racing, owner of Parx Casino in Bensalem, Penn., is one of three companies vying for Maryland’s sixth and Prince George’s County’s first casino license. The company held a presentation at its proposed site at Indian Head Highway and Old Fort Road, a 26-acre plot of land the company bought to develop into the casino. The presentation before the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Commission included a public testimony period where residents could make remarks regarding the proposed casino.

Rosecroft Raceway owner Penn National Gaming held its presentation Oct. 21, and MGM International Resorts is doing the final presentation Friday.

Greenwood Racing unveiled plans for the building: 3,000 slot machines, 120 table games, 50 poker tables, a 250-room hotel and 3,000-seat event center, according to the presentation. The company also laid out plans for job growth, with construction creating about 5,000 jobs and the final casino itself creating about 5,700 permanent jobs, a majority of which will be full-time, said Leigh Williams, Greenwood Racing spokeswoman.

“We will deliver on our promises. We will conduct ourselves in a manner that will make you proud,” Tony Ricci, CEO of Greenwood Racing, said during the presentation.

Greenwood Racing officials said they would build a $761 million facility, which is slightly more expensive than Penn National Gaming’s proposed $700 million facility. Greenwood’s proposal would create more permanent jobs, compared to Penn National’s proposed 1,600. Both casinos plan to bring slots, live gaming tables, poker tables, a hotel and an event center to their location.

Unlike the Penn National meeting, which featured a majority of residents speaking in support of a casino at Rosecroft, Greenwood Racing encountered a mix of opinions regarding the proposed Parx Casino, Hotel and Spa.

Judie Johnson of Fort Washington said she was opposed the location because the casino would be built near the Tantallon North residential community, and the casino’s bright lights would change the community’s character for the worse. She also said she didn’t believe the taxes the casino is required to send to the state and county would make it back to the local communities.

“Money that comes to casinos stay in the casinos,” Johnson said during her testimony. “Casinos do not revive local communities. They act as parasites upon them.”

Andrew Colbert, president of the Indian Head Highway Area Business Council, disagreed. He said Greenwood Racing would be the best company to receive the license because it has a track record of success at the Pennsylvania location, and it would create the best economic growth.

“We should be the economic catalyst for this region,” Colbert said. “Parx Casino is the balance we have been missing.”

The Maryland Video Lottery Facility Commission plans to make a decision on the casino license at the end of this year.

ccook@gazette.net