Giant MGM National Harbor casino is looking beyond Maryland

via Baltimore Sun

Unlike Maryland’s five existing casinos, the $1.2 billion MGM National Harbor will be a “destination” resort projected to attract more than half of its business from outside the state, the top executive of MGM Resorts International said.

“The reason why we’re investing to the degree we are — it’s clearly far more money than anybody has ever invested in a regional casino — is because we don’t believe it is a regional casino,” James Murren, MGM’s chairman and CEO, said recently in Washington.

“Sure, we’ll grab some Maryland business. We’ll grab some from existing operators — I think they know that. But that’s really not our target market,” Murren said. “The majority of our business is going to come outside the state.”

The casino, expected to open in the second half of 2016, will take aim at Virginia — which sits directly across the Potomac River — and nearby Washington, Murren said. More broadly, he said, Maryland’s sixth casino will draw from well beyond the region.

Chris Jones, managing director of Union Gaming, an investment bank dedicated to the casino industry, agreed that MGM will be different from prospective rivals Maryland Live, which is adjacent to Arundel Mills mall in Hanover, and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

“It taps markets that haven’t necessarily been tapped,” Jones said of MGM National Harbor.

Located just south of Washington near where Interstate 95 crosses the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the casino will be positioned to attract the area’s large international community, Jones said. It will have the capacity to benefit from large-convention business because of its location at National Harbor, already home to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, which has 2,000 guest rooms, he said.