Penn National intends to bid on new Prince Georges County casino license

By |
Photo - National Harbor
National Harbor
Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County

Penn National Gaming is looking for a rematch.

The gambling giant couldn't beat MGM Resorts International in the $90 million Election Day fight to add a sixth casino in Prince George's county, so it intends to join them in bidding for the new license, according to federal filings. Bids are due to the state on Friday.

Penn already owns Hollywood Casino in Perryville and Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., as well as Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County, where the casino would likely go if the company's bid is successful.

"Though we intend to participate in the bidding process, we believe another operator could be selected, and as a result our financial results would be adversely impacted as it would create additional competition," Penn said in the filing.

MGM has made no secret of its plans for an $800 million luxury casino at National Harbor. While numerous county and state officials lined up behind that bid, Maryland-based gambling analyst James Karmel said the site selection is not a done deal.

"The commission that reviews these applications has to measure each application by a number of objective criteria, most importantly potential revenue for the state and the casino," he said. "We've had problems in Maryland with applications not being well-capitalized."

MGM had its own capital problems with CityCenter, a 76-acre complex in Las Vegas that was delayed in 2009 when a financial partner pulled $200 million in funding.

"Eventually it was built, but it was a long, tough road," Karmel said. "Their balance sheets look a lot better now."

Penn's casino in Perryville has already benefitted slightly from the November expansion, bringing in $9.9 million in April, including $3 million from table games. That's slightly up from last month, but still down about 36 percent from April in 2012.

The discrepancy is largely due to the presence of Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County, which opened June of last year. Maryland Live! made $46.6 million in April, including $8.4 million from table games in their first few weeks of operation.

It's an increase of only $2 million from March, with slot revenues dropping by about $6.4 million. Karmel attributed this to fewer slots -- Maryland Live! removed 475 machines to make room for 122 table games -- as well as a focus on the April 11 table game unveiling.

"Maryland Live! made a bigger investment in table games," Karmel said. "They had a pretty strong marketing campaign."

The Casino at Ocean Downs, which has not yet added table games, generated $4 million in revenue in April, good for about a 4 percent increase from the same month last year.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Matt Connolly

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner