Penn National Battles MGM Again With D.C. Casino Plan

Penn National Gaming Inc., operator of 29 casinos and racetracks, proposed building a $700 million casino resort at its Rosecroft Raceway horse track in Maryland, 13 miles south of Washington.

The project will include video-lottery terminals, table games such as poker, and a hotel, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Penn National said today in a statement.

The announcement sets up a battle to build the closest casino to the U.S. capital. MGM Resorts International, the largest operator on the Las Vegas Strip, has proposed building one at National Harbor, a Maryland office and hotel complex 10 miles south of Washington.

Penn National, which has proposed breaking off most properties into a real estate investment trust, fought a casino-expansion referendum last year that allowed for the additional casino in Maryland’s Prince George’s County. MGM supported the casino measure, which drew $95 million in spending from both sides in the campaign.

A new Maryland casino would compete with Penn National properties in Charles Town, West Virginia, and in Perryville, Maryland. A winner will be selected by the state’s Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, possibly by the end of the year, Erica Palmisano, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said via e-mail.

MGM, based in Las Vegas, prevailed in a competition with Penn this year to build a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts. That project must still clear several more hurdles, including a local referendum and approval by the state casino commission.

Maryland’s gambling revenue more than doubled to $378 million last year as the result of casino expansion, according to the American Gaming Association.

Penn rose 0.1 percent to $57.95 at the close in New York and has gained 18 percent this year. MGM gained 3.1 percent to $15.61.

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