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Developers Make Final Push for P.G. County Casino License

Joshua Garner | 10/21/2013, 12:41 p.m. | Updated on 10/23/2013, 3 p.m.
Three developers hoping to snag a coveted gambling license to build a half billion-dollar casino in Prince George's County have ...
MGM Resorts International is proposing an $800 million resort and casino at National Harbor.

Three developers hoping to snag a coveted gambling license to build a half billion-dollar casino in Prince George's County have begun make their closing remarks in front of a Maryland gaming commission this week.

The seven-member Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission and the public will hear final proposals for the location of the casino through Friday, Oct. 25 during public hearings at Friendly High School in Fort Washington. The commission will award a license by the close of the year but it could be as late as summer 2016 before a casino opens in the county.

Three bidders are vying for a casino license in the Oxon Hill and Fort Washington communities. MGM Resorts International is proposing an $800 million resort and casino at National Harbor. Penn National Gaming, owner of Rosecroft Raceway, is proposing the $700 million Hollywood Casino Resort. Bensalem, Pa.-based Greenwood Racing Inc., has proposed the $800 million Parx Casino Hotel & Spa in Fort Washington at the intersection of Route 210 and Old Fort Road.

During Monday’s public hearing, residents and officials weighed in on their preference for the casino’s location. Some asked the commission to strongly consider the casino’s impact on county roadways, others asked the commission to reinvest in the county’s older facilities such as Rosecroft.

“I want to make sure you consider the residents and all the traffic we’re going to have,” Del. Veronica Turner (D-Dist. 26) of Camp Spring told the commission. “Make sure the choice you make is the best choice.”

The location of the casino will be awarded based on several criteria including economic development for the community, minority business participation, and transportation infrastructure, said Donald Fry, chairman of the commission.

Bidders have already adjusted their proposals to reflect criteria for the gaming license.

On Monday, Penn National Gaming announced that it would create a profit sharing plan with the community if it’s awarded the casino license. The proposal includes raising $100 million to invest in the Prince George’s County hospital system and an additional $220 million to supplement retirement pensions for county teachers.

"We will be able to fund currently unfunded elements of the new hospital system, provide tools necessary for the county's education system to attract and retain educators and to support the neighbors closest to us and most impacted by our proposed development,” said Tim Wilmott, president of Penn National, who presented to the commission on Monday.

The proposal appeared to be well received by community members in the audience.

“One of my many concerns is that we live in a health desert – there are no health facilities,” said Jackie Goodall, mayor of Forest Heights, a municipality that sits within a few miles of the proposed locations.

Presentations continued on Wednesday from Greenwood Racing Inc., and will close out with a presentation from representatives at MGM National Harbor.

Lorenzo Creighton, president of MGM National Harbor, said that he remains pleased with the company’s bid.

“I’m very confident that we have the best proposal of the three,” he said. “It’s the best location in the county.”

County officials have been tight-lipped on which gaming destination they prefer but reiterate that whatever location is chosen should benefit the surrounding community.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker initially supported the National Harbor location, but as subsequent bids were announced, Baker became less vocal.

“The Baker administration has not been actively engaged [in preference],” said Scott Peterson, a county spokesman. “Mr. Baker has been clear with expanding gaming into Prince George’s County…and believes the gaming commission will make the best decision.”

Prince George’s County Councilman Obie Patterson (D-Dist. 8), of Fort Washington, whose district will be the site of the new casino, said he’s pushing for a community benefit agreement that would require investments in the surrounding community.

“It’s not going to be an easy task but unless I try, it’s not going to happen,” he said.