The Washington Post

MGM unveils plans for casino at National Harbor

An overhead rendering of the proposed MGM casino at National Harbor. (Courtesy MGM Resorts International)

MGM Resorts International unveiled architectural renderings Wednesday for a towering $800 million casino and resort overlooking the Potomac River at National Harbor, the waterfront development in Prince George’s County.

The company is in the running for a casino license from Maryland that will allow for table games as well as 3,000 slot machines, a result of a decision last year by state and county voters to approve an expansion of gambling in Maryland.

To pick a site, a state commission plans to visit three locations in Prince George’s next month: National Harbor, Rosecroft Raceway and a vacant parcel in Fort Washington. The commission then plans to hold a series of public hearings to gather input before a selection, possibly by the end of the year. The new casino would be the state’s sixth, and it could open by mid-2016.

Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM, told reporters Wednesday that he viewed his company’s proposed resort as “a gateway project to the state of Maryland” that would take advantage of the area’s natural topography and offer views of downtown Washington. He said it would also be respectful of the region.

“What makes sense in Las Vegas does not necessarily make sense in your state,” Murren said. “We know that.”

A view of the planned MGM casino at National Harbor, from the Capital Beltway. (Courtesy MGM Resorts International)

MGM’s plans call for an 18-story glass tower hotel, a seven-story parking garage and a pedestal “designed to evoke the plinth of a grand monument” like those along the Mall. In addition to the casino and hotel, the project would include restaurants, entertainment, upscale retail and a spa.

The complex, which would stretch 1,500 feet, would also include a reflecting pool with fountains that could be used for ice-skating in the winter, Murren said.

Murren said the company would release additional details of its proposal during the week of Oct. 21, when it gets its turn to present to the state commission.

“When you’re in a poker game, you don’t show all your cards,” he said.

A look at the entrance of the planned MGM casino at National Harbor. (Courtesy MGM Resorts International)

The two other bidders for the Prince George’s license are Penn National Gaming, which owns Rosecroft Raceway, and a newly formed subsidiary of Greenwood Racing, which owns a Parx Casino north of Philadelphia and has proposed a similar venue on a 22-acre parcel at Indian Head Highway and Old Fort Road.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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