Council Approves MGM’s Maryland Casino

The Prince George’s County Council has approved MGM Resorts’ plan for the $925 million MGM National Harbor resort (l.), which could break ground in a few weeks. The casino will be the closest gaming resort to Washington D.C.

The Prince George’s County Council last week overwhelmingly approved the plan for MGM Resorts International’s Maryland casino, the MGM National Harbor resort on the Potomac River. The 8-1 vote clears the way for groundbreaking, which could occur within weeks.

After the vote, council members in favor of the project gushed that the facility will attract people from around the world, as well as the huge regional population. “I truly believe this is going to be the best facility in the world,” said Councilwoman Ingrid Turner, according to the Washington Business Journal. “The world is going to come to Prince George’s County to see the best facility.”

While the project easily passed, some council members questioned whether MGM has done enough to mitigate traffic concerns over a facility with 4,000 employees that is expected to draw 8,000 to 10,000 visitors a day.

“No one seems to be talking about how we are going to move around in this part of the county,” said council member Obie Patterson, who represents Fort Washington, where the project is located. “It is almost irresponsible for MGM to say, ‘We are working on a transportation plan.’ We should know what that plan is before we give them authority to move forward.”

MGM officials have said they are working on a comprehensive transportation plan that will include traffic management and infrastructure improvements. A traffic impact study was submitted to the Maryland State Highway Administration, which could require road improvements as a requirement for permits.

The sole council member to vote against the casino was Mary Lehman, who opposes public reliance on casino revenues. “I heard the voters loud and clear on Question 7 and their approval of the expansion of gaming to include Prince George’s, but I’m voting no because I hate to see the economic future of this county depend on games of chance,” Lehman said.

Slated to open in July 2016, MGM National Harbor is expected to create 4,000 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs. The property will include a 300-suite glass-tower hotel tower, a casino with 3,600 slot machines and 160 table games, a 3,000-seat theater, 35,000 square feet of meeting space, restaurants featuring local and national chefs, and a 4,700-space parking garage.