One of the biggest names in gaming could be involved in the development of a potential casino at National Harbor.
House Speaker Michael Busch says he met with an executive from MGM Hospitality and a National Harbor developer, but the speaker says not to read too much into the meeting, because state officials still have a lot to weigh before a casino could be allowed in Prince George's County.
Busch said in a telephone interview on Thursday that Milton Peterson, of National Harbor, and Michael Evans, MGM's executive vice president for global development, told him they are poised to have an agreement for a casino, if one is approved at the development.
In a statement, Jon Peterson, senior vice president of the Peterson Cos. at National Harbor, would not elaborate on a possible agreement, because a deal had not yet been reached.
On June 6, the Maryland Live! Casino opened at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover. Officials tell The Capital in Annapolis that a sixth casino could add as many as 5,000 jobs to the state.
Appearing on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt on Thursday, County Executive Rushern Baker couldn't confirm MGM's involvement in discussions, but affirmed that whoever develops the potential casino in his county would do it with the most quality possible.
"Our main focus has been to make sure that there is a bill passed," Baker said. "We're excited that big casinos are interested in coming here.'
During a meeting on Tuesday, Prince George's County officials reviewed a consultant's report that said that Maryland could support a sixth casino, something that Baker has always been in support of.
"Having a facility like that will attract more people and not just to the facility but to the outside of National Harbor, so we're excited about that," Baker explained.
In the face of concern about adding more gambling for the sake of gambling in Prince George's County, Baker wants people to see the proposed development at National Harbor as more than just a casino.
"They don't just see gambling," he said. "They see high-end restaurants, they see the entertainment and everything else we can bring here."
Baker, who voted against slot machines as a Maryland delegate for 8 years, now envisions a high-end resort that includes all of that.
"You have to do it in a way that is so high-end, that it's a resort-style facility," Baker said. "This is just part of it - gambling is part of an overall entertainment value."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.