Goodwin Gaming
December 23, 2013

Odds-On Favorite MGM Wins The DC-Area Casino Sweepstakes

By Abim Thomas

As long expected, MGM was selected to build the Prince George’s County casino in a 5 to 2 vote by the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, in what some considered to be “a foregone conclusion.”  MGM’s proposed location along the Potomac River at National Harbor was projected to bring in substantially more revenue than competing proposals from Greenwood Racing, Inc. and Penn National Gaming, which had proposed sites slightly farther from DC and Virginia (the state is one of only 11 still lacking a casino).

The result was largely constrained by a requirement that the commission base 70% of its decision on predefined “business and market factors” such as revenue generation and ability to attract out-of-state visitors.  Though revenue projections differed, all six consultants hired by the Commission agreed that MGM’s proposal would be the most profitable.

It remains to be seen whether Greenwood Racing or Penn National, the other two suitors, will contest the decision.  Greenwood Racing CEO Anthony Ricci had previously lambasted the consultants’ revenue projections as having “no real-world basis,” claiming they were “blatantly biased” toward MGM.  Penn National also criticized the analysis as failing to consider the effect of its proposal – adding a casino to the existing Rosecroft Raceway – on the state’s horseracing industry, as well as giving short shrift to Penn National’s offer to distribute “100 percent of its profits back to the Prince George’s County community.”

There had been some localized opposition to MGM’s National Harbor location, particularly from residents in the Forest Heights community who favored Penn National’s Rosecroft Raceway proposal.  But many others, including local unions, lined up behind the MGM proposal, which also brought in local media mogul Cathy Hughes as an investor.  All in all, according to a Washington Post report, MGM’s proposal “appeared to enjoy, by far, the greatest support among community leaders and other residents.”  The casino is expected to go live in mid-2016.