Penn National says Rosecroft casino would include 3,000 slot machines


A driver takes a few laps at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

A spokeswoman for Penn National Gaming said Monday that the company’s vision for a casino at Rosecroft Raceway includes 3,000 slot machines, six times what was indicated in a summary of bids released by Maryland regulators Friday.

Penn’s proposal was one of three received for a Prince George’s casino by Friday’s deadline. MGM Resorts and Greenwood Racing are also competing for the license, which could be awarded by the end of the year.

A “registry of proposals” released by the state late Friday said Penn’s proposal includes 500 slot machines — a figure based on the size of a licensing fee that the company submitted with its bid.

The state had asked that bidders put forward $3 million for every 500 slot machines they are proposing. Penn’s application included only $3 million.

By contrast, MGM included $21.6 million for its plan to include 3,600 slot machines in a casino at National Harbor, and Greenwood included $28.5 million for its plan for 4,750 machines at a casino at Indian Head Highway and Old Fort Road.

The state has said losing bidders will get their money back. But Karen Bailey, a spokeswoman for Penn, said the company did not submit a larger fee because of “the continued gray area around the refundability of these fees.”

“We have made clear to the state in our submission that we are designing the facility for at least the full statutory allotment of (3,000 slot machines) and will submit the remaining fees upon licensing,” Bailey said.

It remains to be seen how that strategy will play out.

“I’m not really sure what the gray area would be,” said Donald C. Fry, chairman of the state commission that selects casino locations. “We’ve answered that question several times.”

Over the coming months, Fry said the commission will evaluate proposals “based on the number of machines that have been requested and paid for.”

He said it is possible for applicants to amend their proposals during the review process but that such changes are at the discretion of the commission, based on several criteria in state law.

Penn was able to change their proposal for another casino it owns in Perryville, in the northeastern corner of the state. But in that case, Penn was the only bidder for the location, which opened in 2010.

All three competitors for the Prince George’s license also proposed including table games, such as black jack and roulette, at their casinos. Both Penn and MGM proposed 140 tables games, while Greenwood proposed 170.

The number of proposed table games does not factor into the license fee required by the state.

MGM wants to build a casino on a site up a hill from the main National Harbor development, the 300-acre mini-city on the banks of the Potomac River.

Greenwood, which operates the Parx casino north of Philadelphia, is eyeing a parcel about five miles south of National Harbor.

Penn’s plan is to build a casino and hotel at Rosecroft, the horse track in Fort Washington.

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