What started as a proposal for slot machines at a Fort Washington horse-racing track has evolved into a proposal for a Las Vegas-esque casino on the Potomac River, one that supporters say could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Prince George's County and the state -- under the right conditions.
State budget analysts estimate a casino at National Harbor, a sprawling development along the Potomac River on the opposite bank of the District, could generate as much as $423 million in gross revenue from slots. And County Executive Rushern Baker has touted a high-end facility's ability to draw $69 million annually for his county alone.
But as concessions have been made to help pass a gambling bill in the House of Delegates, it has become less clear if that amount of money can be made.
Officials with MGM Resorts International, the gambling group partnering with the developers of National Harbor, told the Baltimore Sun they are no longer demanding lawmakers lower the state's 67 percent tax rate on slots -- the measure had been considered a prerequisite for the company to build in Prince George's.
Now MGM Chief Executive James Murran says they will build no matter what the tax rate, but added that a higher tax rate means a smaller investment.
What was once hailed as a $1 billion development now could cost $700 million, which might mean less revenue than budget analysts predicted.
"You're not going to get 100 percent of anything you want in a legislative body," Baker said. "That's why there's compromise. But I feel confident that not only do we have the support of the delegation, but more importantly, that the voters of Prince George's County want this site."