MGM Resorts International laid out its plans to build a $925 million facility — the most expensive of three bids to build the first casino in Prince George’s County — receiving a mixed response at a public hearing.
“It is an amazing opportunity,” Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International president and chief marketing officer, said of the company’s proposal to build the casino at National Harbor. “We want to help National Harbor, and we think we can.”
MGM Resorts International is one of three companies competing for Maryland’s sixth casino license to build a facility in the county. MGM’s presentation was Oct. 25 while Rosecroft Raceway owner Penn National Gaming made its pitch Oct. 21 and Pennsylvania Parx Casino operator Greenwood Racing unveiled their plans Oct. 23. Each company presented to the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, which is tasked with gathering information and holding public meetings before awarding a license to one of the companies.
Like the other presenters, MGM unveiled the specifics of its casino, which will feature 3,600 slots, 140 live gaming tables including poker, a 300-room hotel, restaurants, and retail and meeting space, according to the MGM presentation. MGM officials said their facility would cost $925 million, and the presenters touted the casino’s resort-style build, emphasizing the restaurants, luxury retail and event center venue they plan to bring to the National Harbor location if the company receives the license, according to the presentation.
The presenters said the investment would create 4,000 direct jobs — most of which would be full-time union jobs — with employees being hired locally, according to the presentation.
“We demand excellence in everything we do,” said Jim Murren, MGM chairman and chief executive officer. “We are about making good on our promises. We do what we say we do; we don’t overpromise and under deliver.”
MGM had a mix of supporters and dissenters.
Don Bates Sr. of Fort Washington spoke in support of MGM because he thinks the company will deliver on its promises. The company’s casino in Detroit is excellent, and the National Harbor MGM casino would become a destination in Prince George’s County, he said.
“There is no question,” he said. “They are for real.”
Joyce Thorpe of Fort Washington said she is opposed to a casino at National Harbor because she is concerned MGM will not be a good neighbor to nearby residents and cause too many traffic issues. Whenever the harbor has an event, the residents can hear the sound from the huge speakers, and the portable toilets are put right on neighboring fences, she said.
“National Harbor has been a terrible, terrible neighbor,” Thorpe said during her testimony.
Kue Lattimore of Temple Hills said she doesn’t want a casino coming to the county at all. She said the mother of one of her friends is addicted to gambling.
“If you look around Vegas and other areas, people are being victimized,” Lattimore said. “I am vehemently opposed to this.”
Now that all of the public presentations are over, the commission will spend the next couple of months looking over the proposals and presentations to award a license to one of the companies, said commission chairman Donald C. Fry. Fry said he hopes the commission will make a selection before the end of the year.