A Caesars Entertainment vice president said the company would not shift its attention to a potential site at National Harbor in Prince George’s County — so long as the company is awarded the video lottery terminal license to build and operate a Harrah’s casino in downtown Baltimore.
Similar legislation in the House of Delegates and the Senate calls for Maryland to add a sixth video lottery terminal license to the state’s arsenal. The license would be used for a casino at the mixed-use commercial and residential development in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
The legislation also calls for table gambling — poker and blackjack, for instance — to be allowed at state casinos. It also increases the percentage of video lottery revenues that are returned to licensees. The rest is collected by the state.
Trevor Busche, vice president of corporate development for Caesars, said the company supports that legislation, even though adding an additional casino in the state would hurt business for any downtown casino, and Maryland Live! at the Arundel Mills mall, which should open in June.
By adding table games and increasing video lottery revenues for the casinos, the bill is made more palatable, he said.
Theo C. Rodgers, who is president of A&R Companies, a local partner in Harrah’s Baltimore proposal, said ideally the bill would not include the sixth license. But he agreed the other provisions made that concession worth it.
“If there was a stand-alone bill for a sixth license, we would be in opposition,” Rodgers said.
The Video Lottery Facility Location Commission has yet to award the license for the downtown casino, but Harrah’s Baltimore is the only applicant.
“We are entirely focused on improving the economic development of Baltimore City,” Busche said, deflecting questions from Baltimore City lawmakers about whether the group would look into bidding on a National Harbor site should legislation be passed and subsequently approved through a mandatory voter referendum.
Polling shows that 57 percent of Prince George’s County voters would support the establishment of a casino.
“I think it will be an attractive gaming site,” Busche said of the National Harbor.