An agreement is imminent between developers at National Harbor and MGM to run a proposed casino in Prince George's County, according to sources monitoring negotiations between the companies.
While details of the agreement are not clear, MGM Resorts International would operate a high-end casino, the centerpiece of what could amount to a $1 billion development at the Potomac River convention destination, if an expansion of Maryland gambling is approved.
An announcement of the deal is expected Friday.
Michael Evans, MGM's executive vice president for global development, was in Annapolis on Wednesday with National Harbor developer Milt Peterson for a meeting with Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, according to an official in Busch's office.
Evans and Peterson are scheduled to meet with Gov. Martin O'Malley and Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George's, on Friday morning, sources said.
MGM spokesman Gordon Absher said the company has been watching the Maryland gambling debate closely.
"With the many millions of customers in the region, under the right circumstances, our company would be very interested in theMarylandmarket," Absher said.
As lawmakers consider an expansion of gambling that would add a sixth state casino site, in Prince George's, as well as authorize table games such as blackjack and craps at all Maryland casinos, Peterson has touted his proposed casino as a high-end, Las Vegas-style facility, one that would dwarf the state's other five casino sites.
Reaching a deal with the largest casino operator in Las Vegas -- MGM runs the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mirage, Mandalay Bay and Luxor, among others -- would certainly aid those efforts.
"They have a practice of developing upscale casino resorts," said Frank Fantini, president of Fantini Research, a publishing service for the gambling industry. "It wouldn't be midtier or low-level, it would be a top-notch property."
Jon Peterson, senior vice president of the Peterson Cos., would not confirm an agreement on Thursday.
"We don't yet have a deal or letter of intent, so there's nothing more we can say," Peterson said.
An agreement among lawmakers to allow a sixth casino site is far from certain, however. A work group of lawmakers and the governor's staff is scheduled to meet June 20 to make a recommendation to O'Malley, who said he will call a special session for gambling legislation in early July if necessary.
Voters would have to approve the measure in the November election.
The announcement would be another blow for the Cordish Cos., whose recently opened casino in Anne Arundel County may be flanked by two of the country's largest gambling companies -- MGM in Prince George's and Caesars Entertainment Corp. in Baltimore.
State analysts said earlier this week that Maryland can support a sixth casino, in an announcement that discounted testimony from Cordish that a casino so close would harm its business.