Greenwood antes up for P.G. County casino

Greenwood Racing Inc. showed its hand Wednesday in its bid to build a casino in Prince George's County.

The owner of Pennsylvania's largest casino said it would plow $100 million into local road improvements and generate $30 million a year in tax revenue for the state, in part by accepting a higher state tax rate than required by law, if it wins the gambling license.


Greenwood Racing wants to build a $761 million Parx Casino Hotel and Spa on 11 acres of undeveloped land off Indian Head Highway — an area it says is "ripe" for development.

"We will transform this entire area," said Greenwood CEO Tony Ricci during a tour of the site Wednesday afternoon for members of the state's Video Lottery Facility Location Commission.


The commission is considering three proposals for the state's sixth and final casino license, and hearing proposals from each this week.

On Monday, it heard from Penn National Gaming, which promised to pump nearly $320 million into the county's health and education systems with its proposed Hollywood Casino Resort at Rosecroft Raceway nearby.

The commission will hear Friday from MGM Resorts about that company's proposal for a site next to Interstate 95 near National Harbor.

The proposed Parx casino has drawn opposition from people concerned about traffic on Indian Head Highway as well as the possible impact on home values and crime.

"There's not enough room. It's congested. It's just not a proper place to put a casino," said Thomas "Tommy" Ratliff, president of the Drivers, Chauffeurs & Helpers Local Union No. 639, who was protesting with other union members near the site with signs and T-shirts reading "Don't Parx Here."

Deborah Hayes, 58, a resident of nearby Potomac Estates, agreed.

"I have grandkids and things, and we moved here several years ago because it was more rural," Hayes said. "Now with the congestion and the casino and the crime rate, I feel all of this will just escalate."

State Del. Jay Walker, who represents District 26 in the county, said he heard "overwhelming" opposition from county residents to the Parx casino, saying it's a "distant, distant, distant third" to the other two proposals.


The Rev. Marc Britt of St. John's Episcopal Church near the Parx casino site called building a casino there as "repugnant" as building a brothel.

Throughout their presentations, Greenwood officials stressed that they currently operate a Parx Casino outside Philadelphia, and have only benefited the Bensalem community there.

Ronnie Elam and Thomas Taylor, who have both lived in Prince George's County for 30 years and are minority owners in the project — together, they own about 10 percent — said the project will boost the region and its residents.

"This is something our community needs," Elam said. "This is the only way I know we can put money in everyone's pockets," he said, citing the local hiring and the home-value benefits of living in a economically viable region.

Greenwood said the project would create 5,700 permanent jobs. Its plans call for 356,000-square-foot entertainment complex to open in 2016 with about 3,000 slots, 120 table games, 50 poker tables, at least 250 hotel rooms, an entertainment and theater complex, eight brand-name restaurants and bars, and a large parking garage.

The facility would ramp up to a total of 4,750 slots by 2021 and, Greenwood officials said, have as much as $1 billion in overall economic impact per year.


The $100 million for road work would be part of a public-private partnership with the state and county to build overpasses at two current intersections along Indian Head Highway, work already called for in state plans. The cost of that work, which would benefit the casino by expanding the road's traffic capacity, is estimated at $200 million.

Greenwood also said it would accept a 33 percent operator share in slot revenues with the balance going to state coffers. That's 5 percent lower the maximum 38 percent allowed under state law.

Donald Fry, chair of the state commission, said the panel would chose the winner — likely later this year — based on which proposal provides the most benefit to Maryland.

Any of the three companies outlining proposals this week could change their terms based on their competitors' bids, said Fry, who expects to set a deadline soon.

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County officials have declined to comment during the public proposal process.

Elam said Fort Washington will either see its existing commercial businesses fail without the boost of the casino, or see them revived with it.


"We have failing malls all around us," he said. "We have a beautiful car, but it isn't going nowhere because we don't have an engine."