Maryland lawmakers are weighing whether to authorize a sixth casino in the state, which Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) would like to see at National Harbor.
“These are not Starbucks,” sad Joe Weinberg, president of the Cordish Cos., the company behind Maryland Live! “They cannot go on every corner.”
Weinberg’s pronouncement came during a tour of his company’s casino, which has rapidly risen from a parking lot in Arundel Mills mall.
The first batch of slot machines were wheeled in Wednesday onto the casino’s gaming floor, which stretches the length of three football fields.
With a plan for 4,750 slot machines, the facility will be Maryland’s largest and the fifth-largest of its kind in the country, Weinberg said. No casino in Las Vegas has more than 2,500 machines.
The casino interior is advancing in stages, with some carpeting in at one end and the other still looking more like a shell. The outlines of what will be several restaurants and a live-music venues are also visible at this point in the construction, which has involved 2,500 workers and is taking place round-the-clock.
Baker has made clear his preference is National Harbor and proposed putting a $1 billion casino there — about twice the investment Cordish has made in its hulking project.
Weinberg noted that there is a large-scale casino in Charles Town, W.V., which draws patrons from the Washington and Baltimore regions, and another nearly as large is planned for downtown Baltimore.
“There’s no precedent for having three mega-casinos in the same market, let alone four,” Weinberg said. “It’s insane to look at adding another facility at this point in the game.”
Baker has argued that a Prince George’s location would be well-positioned to draw gamblers from the District and Northern Virginia, where casino-style gaming remains illegal.
But Weinberg said Maryland Live!, which is located near Route 295, was designed to do just that.
“Our whole purpose is being able to draw people from not only the Baltimore-Washington corridor, but from D.C. and Virginia,” he said. “That’s a market that has always been a target of this facility.”
The Prince George’s casino plan is scheduled to get another hearing in Annapolis on Friday, with both Baker and Weinberg planning to testify before a panel in the House of Delegates.