Racing to continue at Rosecroft — if gambling doesn’t begin at National Harbor

Penn National Gaming said Tuesday that it has committed to another two years of live racing at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County — if a casino isn’t approved at nearby National Harbor.


A scene from Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Lawmakers will consider allowing a new casino in Prince George’s, as well as Las Vegas-style table games at Maryland’s five other slots sites.

Penn, which also owns Hollywood Casino Perryville, has been lobbying for more than a year to allow a casino at Rosecroft, the once-shuttered harness track it bought and re-opened last year in Fort Washington.

Penn executives recently accused Maryland of running a “sleazy process” that favors National Harbor, the 300-acre mini-city on the banks of the Potomac River.

Legislation taken up in the special session is likely to invite bids from both National Harbor and Rosecroft, but Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker (D) has been championing National Harbor.

“A casino at National Harbor will be the final blow to Rosecroft and will destroy our industry,” said Sharon Roberts, executive vice president of Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, the horse-racing group that struck the deal with Penn. “I hope our legislators will keep our futures in mind when they meet in special session and hope they understand that a casino at National Harbor kills Rosecroft.”

Hollywood Casino has also requested to return 400 to 500 of the 1,500 slot machines it has at its location in Cecil County, citing competition from the state’s most recently opened slots venue, Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.

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