MGM Resorts International has submitted formal plans to Prince George’s County for construction of a $925 million casino complex at National Harbor.

The county Planning Board could bring the application to a public hearing as early as April, a county planner said, as officials expedite the proposal for a possible groundbreaking this summer.

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The casino, supported by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), is slated to open in mid-2016 and is expected draw thousands of people from across the Washington region and beyond. County officials say the project will boost tourism and expand the county’s economic base.

The Nevada-based gaming giant filed site plans with the county last week, a little more than a month after a Maryland commission granted the company the state’s sixth and final casino license.

MGM announced this week that it had hired a Prince George’s architectural firm to work as a liaison between the company and the county during the complex permitting process.

MGM proposes to build a luxurious gambling resort on 23 acres overlooking the Potomac River. The plan calls for a 300-suite glass-tower hotel, 3,600 slot machines, 140 gaming tables, a concert theater, several restaurants, a spa, and high-end stores. The resort will have about 4,700 parking spaces.

Various county agencies are reviewing the plan and will provide assessments to the Planning Department, planner Susan Lareuse said. The department staff will make a recommendation to the Planning Board.

The board has tentatively scheduled a hearing on application for April 10, Lareuse said. If approved, the plan will go to the County Council for final review, a process that could take an additional 60 days. Baker’s support is expected to keep the project moving forward, and MGM could be seeking construction permits and breaking ground this summer, officials said.

MGM was widely perceived as a favorite with county leaders and residents during last year’s competition for the state gambling license, but the company is still likely to face opposition and various demands from the community during the approval process.

Civic associations in the National Harbor area have been discussing traffic concerns that are likely to be an issue during public hearings. Residents and community leaders say they want improvements made to busy Oxon Hill Road and Indian Head Highway. Others have discussed pressing MGM to invest in low-income and distressed neighborhoods near National Harbor and in the county school system.

“I haven’t heard any people who have said that they will fight against MGM. I think if they have those thoughts, they are fighting a losing battle, because obviously we are going to get the casino,” said Ron Weiss, a board member of the Tantallon Citizens Association and a Fort Washington resident for 30 years. “The question is how we can best minimize the impact of the casino on our community.”

MGM said it is carrying out its pledge to hire local and minority-owned businesses for the project, which is expected to generate thousands of jobs. The company said Tuesday that it has hired Arel Architects and its president and chief executive, Ronald D. Lipford, to serve as a liaison between MGM’s design team and the Prince George’s Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement.

In October, MGM announced that Radio One owner Cathy Hughes and her son planned to invest $40 million in the project, meaning that prominent African Americans would have a stake in MGM’s proposal.

Temple Hills-based Arel will provide oversight and management support between the development team and regulators during the planning and construction phases of the project. Arel’s role is crucial in the complex permitting process, said Lorenzo Creighton, president and chief operating officer of MGM National Harbor.

“Major projects like ours are made or broken in the permit process,” Creighton said. “We are on an aggressive schedule, and in order to make our target opening date, the timing and coordination of permitting is crucial to our success.”

Orange County is suddenly in the running for a casino, with national hospitality companies hoping to secure a state gambling license focusing on the area near Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.

Three major players in the industry have made multiple site visits to locations in Orange County that they're targeting for a potential casino, County Executive Steve Neuhaus said Friday.

Casino developers have met with officials from the Village of Woodbury in the past week, and, over the past couple days, have inquired with the Village of Harriman. The City of Newburgh is also in the mix, said Interim City Manager James Slaughter.

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Catskills casino contenders
A number of Orange County sites have joined the list of contenders for a Catskills/Hudson Valley casino. Other possibilities include:
• An Empire Resorts/EPR resort casino at the old Concord resort outside Monticello
• Louis Cappelli's casino project at his small slice of the Concord
• The Muss Development/Foxwoods resort casino at the old Grossinger's resort in Liberty
• Michael Treanor's resort casino project at the old Nevele hotel outside Ellenville
• Rochester developer David Flaum's project at the former Shawanga Lodge in Mamakating
• Sullivan County developer Robert Berman's planned casino on land in Rock Hill
• The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans' long hoped-for Indian casino off Route 17's Exit 107 in Bridgeville.
Interest has spiked in the past six weeks, said Orange County Partnership President and CEO Maureen Halahan. Gambling companies want to build in Orange County because of its proximity to New York City, she said.

"We are a hot commodity," Halahan said.

The Cordish Cos. and Penn National Gaming Inc., large-scale casino developers, are considering the Village of Woodbury, said Mayor Michael Queenan. He sat in on a meeting with Cordish last week, and met Friday morning with Penn.

Cordish is proposing a hotel, full casino and conference center, and is considering building the complex on a 130-acre site surrounding the Harriman train station, about three miles from Woodbury Common. The company has developed Hard Rock-themed hotels and casinos in Hollywood, Fla., and Tampa, Fla.

It has also worked with Simon Property Group, the owner of Woodbury Common, on a casino at another one of Simon's malls in Hanover, Md. That casino is called Maryland Live! and has 4,300 slots and electronic table games, 177 live games and 52 poker tables.

Cordish and Simon did not immediately return phone calls and emails Friday.

The property around the Harriman train station is zoned for high-density, transit-centered development featuring restaurants and housing.

Queenan said the train station is a big draw for the casino developers.

"The site would be ideal for them," he said.

Penn inquired about the Woodbury area in general, Queenan said. He said that the land surrounding the train station was one of their best options. Penn owns and operates more than 20 horse racing and casino gambling facilities across the country, including the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas.

Queenan was shocked when he heard that casino developers wanted to land in his municipality, and in Orange County at all. Until the past few weeks, Orange County hadn't been seriously discussed as a possible host for a casino, with the regional focus instead on plans in Sullivan and Ulster counties.

But, Orange County is included in the Catskills/Hudson Valley region, one of the three upstate areas that could host a casino.

It's also the area most expect will get two of the four initial licenses the state will give out.

Queenan still has to discuss the idea with his trustees.

"This is an opportunity that may never come along again," he said.

Stephen Welle, the mayor of Harriman, said the former Nepera plant would work for a casino resort in his municipality. The plant is 130 acres and adjacent to the Harriman train station land.

Developers started calling Welle over the past couple of days, and he told them he would have to discuss the idea with his board.

Casino projects will have to move on an aggressive timetable, Neuhaus said. The state will issue a request for casino proposals in March, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said selections will be made in the fall.

Neuhaus said that he is in favor of a casino in Orange County as long as the host community is on board.

"It won't happen without support from the community," he said.

A casino would provide huge financial benefits to the county and the municipality it lands in, Neuhaus said.

"The revenues are staggering," he said, adding that many of the casino developers he has spoken with would assist schools significantly.

Slaughter said the City of Newburgh, which has had serious financial woes, will consider the possibility of permitting a casino in its confines.

A casino in Orange County would hurt a possible casino in Sullivan County, Neuhaus said. New York City residents would have a much shorter drive to southern Orange County than they would to proposed casinos in Sullivan and Ulster counties.

Michael Treanor, the CEO of Claremont Partners, which plans to build a casino at the Nevele property outside Ellenville, said Orange County does not have a good chance of getting a gambling resort. The act that allows the licensing of casinos is meant to help upstate New York, Treanor said.

"Orange is not upstate," he said, adding that the county already has a top tourism destination — Woodbury Common. "There are already 10-mile traffic jams in Woodbury on Black Friday. Do you think they want more?"

But Treanor did admit that the economics of putting a casino in Orange County are compelling.

Reporter Steve Israel contributed to this story.

REVERE — Four days before they go to the polls to vote for or reject a proposed Suffolk Downs casino, local residents drew sharp contrasts between a casino’s job-creating power and what critics called the potential for crime to follow gambling into the city.
Voters like Michael Benevento and Cheryl Frye think next Tuesday’s local vote to approve or reject Suffolk and Mohegan Sun’s proposed casino partnership will be much closer than the nearly 60 percent pro-casino vote last November.

“It’s just my feeling about how people are talking,” said Benevento.
The subject is hard to avoid with a banner strung across Broadway in front of City Hall reading: “Please vote on election day.”
Benevento thinks introducing gambling at Suffolk Downs will spur development in the city, but gambling opponent Frye said she is worried about the “crime factor” she thinks is associated with casino gambling.
“I’ve been against it from the start,” Frye said.
The state Gaming Commission’s current schedule calls for the five-member commission to license up to three resort casinos in Massachusetts by May 30. Revere and Everett are competing sites for an Eastern Massachusetts casino.
Revere voters supported a Suffolk casino in last November’s vote, but East Boston residents rejected the gambling proposal, setting the stage for Suffolk and Mohegan executives to announce plans to build a $1.3 billion gambling complex only in Revere.
Steven Moscato thinks the ideal Massachusetts casino site is a semi-rural location off a major highway, but he thinks Revere voters will approve a Suffolk casino site.
“I’d say it’s 50-50 how it will help the city: There are jobs — part-time ones at least — and the downside is crime and traffic,” Moscato said.
Casino supporter Peggy Ferreira said a “no” vote against a Revere casino means gambling dollars spent by local and area residents will continue to flow to casinos in other states. She remembers the golden age of local race wagering when Wonderland Greyhound Park and Suffolk Downs drew crowds to the two tracks.
“We’ve had the dogs and the horses — what’s the problem?” she said.
The problem, in Roman Irby’s view, is that a casino could “bring a lot of trouble to the city,” including drug dealing, said Irby.
Benevento said casino opponents are contacting voters on the eve of the Feb. 25 vote. Casino proponent organizations, including Revere Says Yes and Friends of Mohegan Sun, are holding rallies this weekend, according to a Suffolk-Mohegan press statement.
Saber Abougalala said he does not gamble in line with his Islamic faith, but the Revere businessman said money generated by casino gambling will benefit local businesses and create jobs. In Andrew James’ view, a local vote against a Revere casino means money made from gambling will most likely go to Everett where a competing casino proposal is under commission review.
Benevento and resident Michelle Ciano said the upcoming casino vote has triggered strong feelings among people they know.
“I think there’s a lot of mixed emotions,” she said.

LITTLE ROCK, AR-- The thought of a casino possibly coming to Little Rock has people talking.

The Quapaw tribe, which operates Downstream Casino in Oklahoma, has bought property in Pulaski County near the airport and port authority.

Although the tribe, which has roots in Arkansas, has no plans to build right now, they are keeping the option on the table.

The tribe says it wants to concentrate on preserving its history before moving forward on any plan.

Michael Pakko, with the Institute for Economic Advancement, says casinos bring up concerns for some.

"The moral issues surrounding gambling always comes up when it comes to legislation surrounding gambling to take place in a particular state," said Pakko.

But Pakko says there are clear advantages for Indian gaming, which generates 28 billion dollars a year nationwide.

"One of the reasons gaming has been such an attractive development is because you can't gamble everywhere. So the locations that do have gaming attract visitors from outside the region and that's what make it a profitable activity," said Pakko.

People who live and work nearby the property on Thibault road have different responses.

"I don't want it because I live past it and I don't want the traffic up and down the road," said Shana Davis.

John Smith disagrees.

When the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers failed to extend their lease at Orleans Arena, the team took an unconventional route in finding a new home. The Wranglers plan to spend $4 million to build a new, 3,500-seat venue on the roof of the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, according to the Law Vegas Review-Journal (via Extra Mustard). The 11-year-old team draws about 4,600 per game, and is widely known for its zany promotions (Indoor Winter Classic, anyone?), so playing their 36 home games on the roof of a casino doesn’t really seem that far off the map. Vision Building Systems, LLC, a Las Vegas-based modular building company, will build the metal structure — which will be covered with a fabric shell — on top of the hotel and casino in a spot that was once a parking garage, so it’s able to handle the weight of the venue. The team plans to rent out the arena during off-times throughout the hockey season to increase revenue, but it won’t keep the ice in place during the Vegas summer. The Wranglers finished 12-31 in the 2013-14 season.

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REVERE, Mass. —The battle for votes in a casino fight in Revere is heating up during the final weekend before the vote.

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Opponents of the plan have mobilized, going door to door and making phone calls, urging residents to vote against the plan.

“We don’t have a lot of money, we don’t have a lot of resources, we don’t have a ton of people,” Pastor Tim Bogertman, of First Congregational Church, said. “But we have a great group of people who are committed and we’re going up against a giant.”

Religious leaders have led the fight against the mayor and other leaders who say a casino would bring jobs to town.

“We’re very confident going into Tuesday that our voters will come out – similar to the way they did back on Nov. 5th and support this project,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo.

On Nov. 5, Revere voters did approve a casino plan at Suffolk Downs, but residents in East Boston voted against it.

That outcome prompted a new vote and a new plan, located entirely in Revere.

The referendum on the casino plan will be held on Tuesday.

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