Industries Hotels/Tourism

MGM National Harbor’s casino and resort opens on Dec. 8.

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires
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MGM National Harbor’s new luxury gaming resort in Maryland is in its final countdown, with opening day a week away on Dec. 8.

The opening promises to be one of the biggest events of the year in  metro Washington’s hospitality industry.  MGM is promising an experience that combines “the energy of Las Vegas with the rich history of our nation’s Capital.”

Early next week there will be a preview media tour of the $1.4 billion hotel and casino project, located just across the Potomac River from Alexandria in Prince Georges County, Md.  (Watch for coverage at the Virginia Business website)

A series of events also are planned for opening day. First up at 11 a.m. is a news conference with MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. After the news conference, attendees will be welcomed inside for tours of the resort’s 24-story, 308-room hotel, and its casino, a 125,000-square-foot space with 3,600 slot machines and 140 gaming tables. There’s also a spa, an entertainment theater with 3,000 seats, several restaurants from celebrity chefs such as Jose Andres, plus high-end retail shops.  To cover all the amenities, the resort  expects to hire 3,600 workers. 

Before MGM opens to the public at 11 p.m. that night, it’s throwing a VIP black-tie gala at 7 p.m. 

So many guests are expected that resort officials are recommending that people plan their transportation well ahead of time to avoid delays and congestion.
“We are excited to welcome our first guests to the resort Dec. 8 and want to ensure everyone has a smooth, fun experience,” Bill Boasberg, general manager of MGM National Harbor, said in a statement.

The MGM National Harbor resort is the latest addition to National Harbor, a 1.2 million-square-foot, mixed-use project including shops, offices and hotels located just across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge from Northern Virginia, or about 30 minutes from 1 million Virginians. Virginia tourism and hospitality officials have been speculating for months on what effect the new casino resort will have.

While the new resort may help draw people to the Washington metro region, who would then visit Virginia as well, some people fear Virginia will lose both convention sales business and lottery ticket sales. Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, is taking more of a wait-and-see attitude. "With the opening of MGM National Harbor it remains to be seen what the impact will be on the travel industry and the economy in Northern Virginia," he said.

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