Consultants say National Harbor would be most lucrative site for Prince George's casino

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A casino at National Harbor would bring in more revenue and tax dollars than two other sites vying for the state's sole casino in Prince George's County, according to consultants who presented data to state gambling officials in Annapolis on Friday.

A group of six consultant firms, hired by the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission to evaluate the casino proposals, said the MGM Resorts International resort and casino proposed for National Harbor would bring in annual gambling revenue of $713 million to $719 million.


Greenwood Racing's Parx Casino proposal for Fort Washington would generate between $617 million and $682 million, while Penn National Gaming's Hollywood Casino at nearby Rosecroft Raceway would generate $551 million to $560 million, the consultants said.

MGM, Greenwood and Penn National are in the final phase of a competition to win the casino license for Prince George's County. The commission is expected to make a decision Dec. 20.


When it comes to tax revenue from the casinos, consultants said MGM had an edge there as well.

Ekay Economic Consultants, a firm that specifically looked at the tax projections, said that by the fifth year of operation, when the casino should be fully up and running, MGM would produce $374 million, compared with $356 million from Greenwood and $337 million from Penn National.

Those figures included the state's gambling tax as well as property, sales, income and hotel taxes, consultants said.

Some revenue from a Prince George's casino would come at the expense of other Maryland casinos. Maryland Live casino in Hanover could lose 20 percent to 23 percent of its revenue, while the Horseshoe casino under construction in Baltimore could lose 12 percent to 14 percent, consultants said.

"You're growing the pie and then redividing it," said Jim Oberkirsch of Custom Gaming Consulting in Denver, one of the firms brought in for the review.

But a Prince George's casino would also draw new revenue from residents of Washington and Virginia, as well as from tourists. Bill Hornbuckle, chief marketing officer of MGM, noted that while his company's casino would be located in Prince George's, "it is pointed directly at Virginia."

The $761 million Greenwood Racing facility would have the most slot machines — 4,750, plus 170 table and poker games.

The $925 million MGM resort and casino would have 3,600 slots and 140 table and poker games, while the $700 million Penn National facility would have 3,000 slots and 140 table and poker games.


Consultants also offered analysis of the nongambling portions of the projects, such as hotel, restaurant and shopping components — and found all those amenities viable. Consultants also looked at traffic and gave another edge to MGM for building within a large development with a road network that will need few upgrades to accommodate more cars.

Officials from Greenwood Racing expressed displeasure with some aspects of the consultant reports. Greenwood CEO Anthony Ricci told commission members that some assessments were "fatally flawed" and hinted that subjective factors such as the quality of nongambling amenities and how far gamblers would be willing to drive from the Capital Beltway — tilted toward MGM.

Ricci compared the consultant reports to a "bad GPS" leading the commission down the wrong road.

MGM representatives, meanwhile, spent their pitch before the commission promoting the company's industry experience and "amazing location" at National Harbor, while criticizing the Greenwood proposal. Hornbuckle emphasized how his project requires few traffic improvements, while Greenwood needs more. Greenwood has pledged as much as $100 million for local road improvements.

Penn National's team highlighted how the company is volunteering to pour extra money into the county's health system and teacher pension fund, at a rate of $26 million a year once the casino is fully operational.

Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry said each proposal has "assets and attributes," and his group will have a challenging decision to make when it takes a formal vote. He predicted it could take several rounds of votes to declare a winner.


Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.