MARYLAND

National Harbor casino, resort plans announced

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The developers of National Harbor and one of the world's foremost casino and resort companies have announced plans to bring big-time gaming to the shores of the Potomac River.

MGM operates numerous hotels and casinos worldwide, including the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Photo: Flickr/astroot

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In a joint announcement made by representatives of the developers of National Harbor and MGM Resorts International on Friday, the two laid out plans to bring a high-end casino and resort to Prince George's County.

The new mega-facility would include a luxury hotel, retail, restaurants and live entertainment to National Harbor, and would be anchored by a casino with 4,000 slot machines and 250 Las Vegas-style table games. The project would take 2 to 3 years to construct, officials estimate.

The plans are all contingent, though, on the Maryland legislature approving Prince George's County as the site of the state's sixth casino. On June 6, the new Maryland Live! Casino opened in Hanover near Arundel Mills Mall.

"We believe this ideal location will not only attract residents from Virginia and DC, but will also serve as a new amenity for the more than 40 million domestic and international visitors who travel to the Nation's Capital each year," MGM Resorts International CEO James Murren said in a statement.

On Thursday, Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch confirmed that he met with executives from MGM hospitality, prompting speculation that the casino and resort giant is the frontrunner to develop and manage the proposed project.

The Peterson Cos., the Virginia-based developer of the National Harbor, and MGM had been in the final stages of concluding an agreement for MGM, The Baltimore Sun reported.

"We share MGM's vision for creating world-class facilities and their track record of success makes them an ideal partner," Peterson Companies Chairman Milt Peterson said.

None of the proposals can move forward without the approval of the Maryland General Assembly. Maryland is currently looking at an expansion of gambling in the state, which could potentially add a sixth casino in Maryland.

Local lawmakers say they will work hard to push the approval through. During an appearance on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt on NewsChannel 8 on Thursday, County Executive Rushern Baker reaffirmed his desire for a high-end resort to be built at the Harbor.

"You have to do it in a way that is so high-end, that it's a resort-style facility," Baker said. "This is just part of it - gambling is part of an overall entertainment value."

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