- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The developers of Maryland’s largest casino warned state officials Friday that hastily adding another gambling site will send a message that the state is an unreliable partner.
David Cordish, developer of the Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover, which is set to open Wednesday, urged members of the state Workgroup to Consider Gaming Expansion not to recommend adding a casino in Prince George’s County until the five existing venues are up and running.
“Let it play out. Get the numbers,” Cordish said. Maryland’s gambling laws — under which 67 percent of slot machine revenue goes to the state, more than anywhere else in the country — were an experiment in progress, he said.
Operators of the new casino, which will have more than 3,000 slot machines when it opens, with another 1,500 expected later this year, project that a Prince George’s site could reduce their market share by about 40 percent.
The 11-member work group met for the first time Friday in Annapolis and is due to hold two more meetings this month. Its recommendations could lead to a special General Assembly session later this summer to vote on legislation that could include both a sixth casino site and the addition of Las Vegas-style table games at existing slots facilities.
The work group is expected to hear the findings and recommendations of a state gambling market study conducted by the financial analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers at its next meeting June 12, officials said.
Despite Cordish’s concerns about decreasing revenue, the developers of National Harbor in Oxon Hill advocated a plan they say could boost the net revenue of all Maryland casinos.
Increasing the share of gaming revenue operators get to keep — from 33 percent to as much as 50 percent -— would boost the profits of the state’s casinos even if their gross revenue decreased in a more crowded market, said Andrew Moody, principal of Business Research and Economic Advisors, a consultant to National Harbor’s developers.
Under the state’s existing laws and tax structure, National Harbor would have no interest in a casino, said Bennett Westbrook, senior vice president of Gaylord Entertainment, which owns a hotel and convention center at the mixed-used development.
Although there was disagreement on whether there should be a sixth gaming facility, the casino operators agreed that table games should be allowed.