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MGM National Harbor attracted about 170,000 in first week

MGM National Harbor had to close garage Saturday night – two days after opening – when it hit capa

The new MGM National Harbor resort and casino attracted about 170,000 people in its first week and has been at capacity "almost nonstop," says an MGM official.

"Since Dec. 8, we have had — as of this morning when I left — over 170,000 through the doors," Mike Pappas, the resort's general counsel, said Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. "I would say that probably after the first two days most of them have stopped just looking around and they're sitting at the tables and at all the machines."

The $1.4 billion Prince George's County property, which includes a hotel, theater, spa, restaurants and Maryland's sixth and most expensive casino, opened to overflow crowds.

The doors opened 30 minutes earlier than expected at 10:30 p.m. By 11:15 p.m. the resort and casino had reached capacity and new visitors were admitted only as guests departed.

"We monitor the ins and out with people counters at the entrances and exits," said Pappas. "We can hold approximately 9,800 or so folks in or out of the casino at any one time."

The crowds continued into the weekend.

"Saturday night we had to close the garage, which is the only time we've actually had a problem where we were actually over-parked," Pappas said.

The American Automobile Association's Mid-Atlantic office says the resort, whose garage holds about 5,000 vehicles, could mean an additional 9 million visitors to the area and a 6.2 percent increase in traffic on the Capital Beltway interchange near the 23-acre property.

Revenue figures for the new casino's first several weeks will be available in early January.

jebarker@baltsun.com

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