Prince George’s Casino Debate Heats Up
Poll finds support for National Harbor casino.
The push to bring gambling and a $1 billion casino to Prince George’s County is under debate this week following testimony in Annapolis by the county executive.
County Executive Rushern L. Baker is lobbying the Maryland State Budget and Taxation Committee to amend portions of a bill that could lead to the legalization of gambling and slots in the county. The amendments, among other items, would allow a $1 billion casino to be built at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill.
“I believe that if gaming is expanded to Prince George’s County, it should be done by developing a high-end destination facility that will attract visitors, tourist and conferences...,” Baker said this week before the Maryland State Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
“I contend that this approach would yield the best economic outcomes for our county and state, enhance our image in the region and create an opportunity for us to diversify and grow our tax base.”
But Prince George’s County residents already appear to be warming up to the idea of a casino at National Harbor. A poll conducted by OpinionWorks, a firm contracted by the Washington, D.C., Building Trades Council, found that 57 percent of residents who responded said they support a casino, while 29 percent said they opposed it.
Still, legislators and developers in Anne Arundel County have complained that a casino in nearby Prince George’s would take away from the Maryland Live! casino at Arundel Mills.
“We oppose any expansion of gaming sites in Maryland regardless of the location,” said Joe Weinberg, managing partner of the Cordish Cos. of Baltimore in The Gazette. “Between Arundel Mills and Baltimore City, 8,500 new slots will be coming online in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, which is more than sufficient capacity to service the market.”
Legalization of gambling still would need to pass in the Maryland General Assembly and a voter referendum. Currently, the state only allows slot machine gambling at five locations, including Ocean City, Perryville, Hanover, Baltimore, and Allegany County.