No Challenge to MGM in Maryland

Maryland gaming regulators say the two losing bidders for the Prince George’s County casino license have agreed to forgo any challenge to the award of the license to MGM Resorts, which will build a $900 million casino at National Harbor alongside the Capital Beltway.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency announced that the losing bidders for the Prince George’s County casino license, awarded to MGM Resorts International, have agreed not to challenge the decision.

Penn National Gaming and Maryland Racing LLC, a subsidiary of Parx at Philadelphia Park owner Greenwood Racing, had fought bitterly for the license to build a casino resort on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. and in the middle of what could be the most lucrative gaming market in the East.

During the final weeks of the competition, Greenwood officials complained that a decision to award the license to MGM, which is building a casino at the National Harbor mixed-use entertainment complex on the Potomac River, would be a miscarriage of the selection process in picking what they called an obviously inferior project. Penn National officials had often decried what they called a politically motivated preference for National Harbor, claiming at one point that the “fix was in” for the MGM project.

When regulators ultimately picked the MGM project, many expected appeals and litigation from the other two bidders. However, with last week’s agreement, both gave up all rights to contest the decision through litigation. In return the state will refund all license fees—$18 million for Penn and $28.5 million for Greenwood—and also will return $500,000 in protest bonds.

Donald Fry, chairman of the location commission, praised the agreement. “The commission took extraordinary steps to ensure that the awarding of a casino license in Prince George’s County was consistent with the criteria established by the legislature,” Fry said in a statement. “On behalf of the commission, I am pleased that the applicants that were not selected felt that the award process was fair and balanced and there was no reason to challenge the commission’s decision.”

Lorenzo Creighton, president of the $925 million MGM National Harbor project, added, “This announcement is testament to the hard work and careful attention to detail the Maryland commission and staff used throughout this licensing process. Chairman Fry deserves credit for guiding the commission, the bidders, and the public through a process that proved to be comprehensive, transparent, and inclusive.

“We are pleased at this news and can now focus on the significant task ahead of us—turning the vision of MGM National Harbor into reality.”