Maryland to begin accepting proposals for Prince George's casino

The state commission charged with awarding a casino license in Prince George's County will call for proposals at a meeting in Annapolis on Jan. 31.

Don Fry, the group's chairman, anticipates setting a due date in May and, depending on the number and nature of the applicants, awarding the license no later than the end of the year.

MGM Resorts, a partner in a proposed $800 million project to be built near National Harbor, will begin work on its proposal as soon as the request is made, spokesman Gordon Absher said.

Penn National, which bought Rosecroft Raceway with hopes of building a casino there, has yet to decide whether it will bid for the license, according to spokeswoman Karen Bailey. The Pennsylvania-based company owns Hollywood Casino in Perryville and to adhere to state law would need to submit a plan for divesting its share in that license if it moved forward with the Rosecroft bid.

Fry said the state commission, which was previously staffed by the department of legislative services but is now run through the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, will conduct thorough background checks of all applicants and an analysis of each proposal.

"We feel we can do this a bit more expeditiously based on our experience doing it so far," Fry said. "But a lot depends on how many parties are involved."

MGM and Penn National waged a costly campaign last fall surrounding ballot question No. 7, which allowed the introduction of table games and the creation of the Prince George's license. Penn National spent more than $40 million on the losing cause and has since railed against what it called an "unseemly back-room deal with National Harbor" and said it believes Rosecroft will not have a fair shot at the license.

MGM and other backers of the National Harbor project accused Penn National of trying to sabotage the project because it will siphon profits from the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va.

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