- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A state commission approved the license for a Baltimore city casino Tuesday, paving the way for the state’s second-largest gambling facility to open in the second quarter of 2014.
The Video Lottery Facility Location Commission unanimously voted to award the state’s fifth license to an investment group led by Nevada-based Caesars Entertainment, which plans to build a 110,000-square foot casino with 3,750 slot machines and several bars and restaurants on Russell Street.
“We’re excited and looking forward to actually moving forward with the development plan,” said Trevor Busche, vice president of corporate development for Caesars.
The casino, which will operate under the Harrah’s brand, is expected to cost $310 million, Busche told the commission Tuesday. Caesars expects the casino to generate $419 million in gross slots revenue in its first year and $484 million by its fifth year, according to Caesars.
Under current law, 48.5 percent of gross slots revenues go to the state’s Education Trust Fund.
The project is expected to create 1,390 construction jobs and 1,210 permanent jobs, according to a joint report by state analysts and financial analysts from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Those projections do not take into account the creation of a possible sixth casino in Prince George’s County, officials said.
The investment group Caesars Baltimore Acquisition Company Gaming, or CBAC, passed a background check with no concerns about its integrity, Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland State Lottery Association, told the commission.
CBAC has paid the required license fee of $22.5 million, according to the commission.
Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry said that with the awarding of the Baltimore license, the commission now has issued all five casino licenses approved by voters in 2008.
The commission would continue to monitor the development of the Caesars project — which must reach a formal land agreement with the city within 60 days — but that he didn’t anticipate much more involvement.
“[There’s] always little odds and ends and things we need to come back and clarify,” Fry said, adding that the commission’s role in the possible approval of table games at Maryland casinos, which will be considered during a special legislative session to begin next week, hadn’t been determined yet.
Caesars supports allowing table games, which would make Maryland more competitive with casinos in other states, but wants to make sure existing casinos would be compensated if a Prince George’s casino is approved, Busche said.