National Harbor casino proposal discussed

On the heels of the opening of Maryland Live!, lawmakers are crunching the numbers over a proposal to build a casino at the National Harbor.

A meeting held Tuesday examined how a new casino could impact Maryland Live! in Arundel Mills, which has been jammed packed ever since it opened last week.

Despite two state-approved slot machine parlors awaiting construction in Baltimore and western Maryland, a consultant's report has concluded that Maryland can support a sixth casino location at the National Harbor in Prince George's County.

County Executive Rushern Baker said he never had any doubt.

" 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.

The report was presented to a Governor's Commission appointed to study the idea of a billion dollar destination casino at National Harbor, as well as the addition of traditional table games with live dealers at all the locations. Such an expansion would bring $160 million a year in revenue to the state.

Milton Peterson, who built National Harbor, said it's a no-brainer.

"A casino that is a billion dollars will be another anchor in Prince George's County, and it really serves Washington and Virginia," Peterson said.

However, there is vocal opposition to the proposal. Members of a Prince George's County church group braved the rain in Annapolis to make their position known.

Rev Joseph H. Thomas argued, "The negatives outweigh the positive, and there are other ways to generate funds than with casinos and gambling."

And then there are the people behind Maryland Live!. Even though their slot machines have been clanging away, they remain resolutely opposed to a D.C. area competitor.

Joe Weinberg, the president of the casino's parent company, said, " What was presented today was that these numbers are highly uncertain, and we do believe at this point, putting another facility in the heart of our market area is not good for the state."

The Gaming Commission will make a suggestion next week.