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Virginia-based developer says yes to gambling at National Harbor

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The Peterson Cos. and MGM Resorts International have entered into an agreement for MGM to develop a resort casino at National Harbor, a 350-acre, mixed-use project on the banks of the Potomac in Maryland, just over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge from Northern Virginia. 

However, the deal is far from done. While the Virginia-based developer of National Harbor has teamed up with the world’s largest casino operator, the deal is contingent upon three things: the Maryland General Assembly approving legislation for what would be the state’s sixth casino license, a competitive tax rate that would allow for a world-class destination resort and the approval of a statewide referendum on the license by Maryland voters.

Currently, Maryland’s gaming laws allow for five casinos and three have opened so far. Opposition could come from existing casino operators who might fear that a new casino would eat into their revenues.
The Peterson Cos., based out of Fairfax County, developed National Harbor into a waterfront destination.  Situated about 10 miles from the White House, it is anchored by the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and includes restaurants, retail, office and residences.

MGM Resorts International, based out of Las Vegas, is one of the world’s leading global hospitality companies. It operates the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage in Las Vegas. In addition, it has a 51 percent interest in MGM China Holdings Limited, which owns the MGM Macau resort and casino in China. The company has other partnership projects under development in China, India and the Middle East and owns and operates 15 properties located in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan.

In a statement about the deal, James J. Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, said, “The opportunity to build a destination casino resort in the National Harbor complex was extremely compelling. We believe this ideal location will not only attract residents from Virginia and D.C, but will also serve as a new amenity for the more than 40 million domestic and international visitors who travel to the nation’s Capital each year.”

Milt Peterson, founder and chairman of the Peterson Cos., one of the largest privately owned real estate development companies in the D.C. region, expressed his supports for the project. “We share MGM’s vision for creating world-class facilities, and their track record of success makes them an ideal partner,” he said in a statement.

The casino would be located on the Beltway Parcel at National Harbor, with access to three interstates:  I-495, I-95, I-295 and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  MGM Resorts said the project would include about 4,000 video lottery terminals and 250 table games along with retail, restaurant and entertainment options and a luxury hotel.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the residents of Prince George’s County and Maryland,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III.  “We remain hopeful that the people will have a chance to vote on bringing a high-quality resort casino that will create thousands of construction and full-time jobs and generate millions in additional revenue for Prince George’s County and the state.”

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