Which house wins? Prince George’s casino decision expected on Friday

December 19, 2013

An artist’s rendering of MGM National Harbor. (Courtesy MGM Resorts.)

No more bets — or bids. The action is closed.

And the winner is …

…going to be determined on Friday, when the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission meets to award the lucrative casino license for Prince George’s County.

The public meeting will be at 11 a.m. at Montgomery Park, the Baltimore building that houses the state’s Lottery and Gaming Control headquarters. (The converted Montgomery Ward catalog building is at 1800 Washington Blvd., just off Interstate 95.)

The contenders: MGM National Harbor, Parx Casino Hotel & Spa and Hollywood Casino Resort at Rosecroft.

The six consulting firms that analyzed the proposals for the state favored MGM in nearly every category, though commission chairman Donald C. Fry reminded his colleagues last week that “the consultants are not the answers to all of the questions” and that the decision is theirs to make.

“I equate this back to my days of practicing law,” Fry told the commissioners on a public teleconference, “where juries are advised with respect to reports from experts that you have to use your own discretion and you can believe all, part or none of any testimony or any expert witness.”

The companies pitching the Parx and Hollywood projects have disputed the consultants’ findings, with Parx chief executive Tony Ricci calling them “fatally flawed.”

In a letter to the commission, an attorney for Parx asked for the licensing decision to be delayed because of “substantial issues and questions with the consultant portion of this process.”

But the seven-member commission plans to proceed as planned, meeting Friday to deliberate and then vote. The license will be won with a simple majority.

Ahead of decision day, here’s some light reading: The statutory criteria that will guide the commission’s final selection.

The decision by the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission to award a license shall be weighted by 70% based on business and market factors including:

(i)   the highest potential benefit and highest prospective total revenues to be derived by the State;

(ii)   the potential revenues from a proposed location based on a market analysis;

(iii)   the extent to which the proposed location encourages Maryland gaming participants to remain in the State;

(iv)   the extent to which the proposed location demonstrates that the facility will be a substantial regional and national tourist destination;

(v)   the proposed facility capital construction plans and competitiveness of the proposed facility;

(vi)   the amount of gross revenues to be allocated to the video lottery operator over the term of the license;

(vii)   the percent of ownership by entities meeting the definition of minority business enterprise under Title 14, Subtitle 3 of the State Finance and Procurement Article;

(viii)   the extent to which the proposed location will preserve existing Maryland jobs and the number of net new jobs to be created; and

(ix)   the contents of the licensee’s plan to achieve minority business participation goals in accordance with the requirements described under § 9–1A–10(a)(1) and (2) of this subtitle.

(3)   The decision by the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission to award a license shall be weighted by 15% based on economic development factors, including:

(i)   the anticipated wages and benefits for new jobs to be created; and

(ii)   any additional economic development planned in the area of the proposed facility.

(4)   The decision by the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission to award a license shall be weighted by 15% based on location siting factors, including:

(i)   the existing transportation infrastructure surrounding the proposed facility location;

(ii)   the negative impact, if any, of a proposed facility location on the surrounding residential community; and

(iii)   the need for additional public infrastructure expenditures at the proposed facility.

J. Freedom du Lac is the editor of The Post's general assignment news desk. He was previously a Local enterprise reporter and, before that, the paper’s pop music critic.
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