Prince George’s residents are one step closer to learning where they will be traveling for their first county casino.
Consultants hired by the state to analyze casino applications agreed during their presentations Friday that MGM Resorts International would provide the county and state the best overall revenue and job opportunities.
The Maryland Video Lottery Facility Commission, which is tasked with selecting between three companies — Greenwood Racing, Penn National Gaming and MGM Resorts International — as Maryland’s sixth and Prince George’s County’s first casino, will use the consultants’ analysis as a factor in their decision. The commission’s plan is to award the license on Dec. 20, according to a commission news release.
The consultants discussed various reports that analyzed the casino applications, looking at potential revenues and traffic impact among other factors.
“Today’s consultant presentations served to validate what we’ve believed since the beginning of this process — that MGM National Harbor represents the best company, the best location and the best proposal,” said Bill Hornbuckle, president and chief marketing officer of MGM Resorts International.
MGM’s favorable showing at the meeting doesn’t make it a lock for Prince George’s casino as the consultants’ reports are another part of the commission’s research, said Donald C. Fry, commission chairman.
The commission must select which of the three applicants will build their proposed casino in Prince George’s County since residents voted last year to bring the casino into the county.
MGM’s proposal is a $900 million casino at National Harbor with 3,600 slots. Greenwood Racing has applied to build a $761 million Parx Casino at the intersection of Indian Head Highway and Old Fort Foote Road with an initial 3,000 slot machines and then expand to 4,750 slot machines. And Penn National Gaming has requested to expand its Rosecroft Raceway location into a $700 million Hollywood Casino. Each hotel would come with entertainment venues, restaurants and hotels.
The earliest the casino could be built is July 1, 2016, according to state law.
Each company’s potential revenues for Prince George’s County were broken down over a five-year period with Penn National Gaming generating about $153 million, Greenwood Racing with about $176 million and MGM with $202 million, according to consultants. This money takes form of property tax, gaming tax, personal income tax and hotel taxes, all of which would start flowing into the county’s budget after the casino is established.
“[A casino] is direct revenue,” said Brad Frome, Prince George’s county executive chief of staff. “It is jobs for our residents and opportunities for our businesses.”
While each casino was labeled as a benefit to the county, consultants said Greenwood Racing’s traffic construction plans would be problematic unless intersections of Indian Head Highway at Old Fort Foote Road and Livingston Road were redeveloped.
Greenwood Racing officials said they would pay the total amount of construction money for the intersection redevelopment and other traffic improvements during casino construction instead of matching funds from the state. Greenwood Racing CEO John Ricci said he estimated those costs would be about $200 million dollars, an increase of the up to $126 million Greenwood Racing initially planned to provide for traffic improvements.
During Penn National Gaming’s response to the consultants’ findings, the company focused heavily on the impact its profit-sharing plan — providing about $320 million in total profits to a teacher’s retirement plan and the new Prince George’s County hospital in Largo — and emphasized the importance of the $714 million a year horse racing industry in Maryland.
“We remain confident in the proposal we put forward,” said Karen Bailey, senior vice president of public affairs for Penn National Gaming. “There is more to this than just the gaming facility itself at Rosecroft Raceway.”
The lottery commission’s final decision will come on Dec. 20 when the commission will hold another meeting on the first-floor auditorium at the Montgomery Park Business Center, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore.