MGM National Harbor unveils $48 million expansion of gambling spaces

MGM National Harbor, the Prince George’s County casino, hotel and entertainment complex, opens a $48 million expansion Sunday in response to strong demand, the casino operator said.

The move adds a larger poker room, off-track horse betting in partnership with the Maryland Jockey Club, 262 slot machines and dining and bar options to the second floor of the $1.4 billion casino project that opened near Washington in December 2016. There is also an expansive new terrace overlooking the Potomac River that includes a smoking area.


Melonie Johnson, the casino’s president and chief operating officer, said MGM was able to tap unused space for the expansion.

“We thought this is going really well, so let’s add space,” Johnson said. “We never anticipated the volume we’d have at this property. That was the decision maker to move poker to the second floor.”


She said that most of the casino’s high-end gamblers come from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, but that the complex is also attracting visitors from around the country. Some have been vacationing in Washington or attending a convention at National Harbor, either within the casino hotel or in the nearby Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

Another draw is the 3,000-foot theater, with headliners including Britney Spears, Bruno Mars and Jill Scott, Johnson said.

The MGM National Harbor expansion comes as its closest Maryland competitor at the 6-year-old Live Hotel & Casino in Anne Arundel County also expands. It recently added a 310-room high-end hotel, an event space, a spa and a restaurant to its gambling space at the Arundel Mills mall. It was that casino’s bid to lure more visitors, particularly big spenders, and recapture business that went, at least initially, to the newer MGM casino in the Washington suburbs.

State regulators reported earlier this month that each of the state’s six casinos saw June revenue increase from the year before, with MGM growing the most — up 18 percent from the year before to $59.3 million.

The Live casino reported a 15.1 percent increase in revenue from 2017 to $48.2 million, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. The Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore had about $22.8 million in revenue, up 2.2 percent. Together, all the Maryland casinos reported a 14.1 percent increase.

Johnson said the growth allows the casinos to contribute more to state coffers. She said the MGM casino is now the largest taxpayer in Prince George’s County, contributing more than $170 million to the Education Trust Fund in 2017.

Also, she said, the facility has added 250 jobs, bringing the total to 4,200.

12:15 p.m. July 16: This story has been updated with the correct number of slot machines in the expansion.