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Prince George’s casino would compete with Arundel Mills, Baker says

Rushern L. Baker III (Photo: Maryland State Archives)

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said a billion-dollar casino at sprawling National Harbor would take some business away from the Maryland Live! facility at Arundel Mills mall but would “complement” a downtown Baltimore casino.

Baker made the comments Tuesday as a guest on Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR. A casino on the banks of the Potomac would draw “people from all over the world,” he said, and was far enough south to not bother a Baltimore facility.

“Will we pull some away from Arundel Mills? Sure,” Baker said. But most of the business in Prince George’s would likely come from visitors to the District, or residents of Northern Virginia, he said.

He also said developer David S. Cordish who has opposed a National Harbor casino and is is building the Anne Arundel facility, should have known additional slots licenses could be created by the state.

Baker, who just recently completed his first year in office, said a facility at National Harbor would be twice the size of the $500 million Arundel Mills facility.

“It will be much bigger … it’s a billion-dollar development,” Baker said. “Our base is what you see in Las Vegas.”

A bill that would have allowed the facility to be built at National Harbor — pending a fall voter referendum — failed in the waning hours of the 2012 General Assembly. The legislation would have created a sixth state slots license, for Prince George’s County, and allowed table games, like black jack, in all state gambling facilities.

It’s likely a special legislative session will be called in August for lawmakers to revisit the proposal. If approved, the casino would be built in 2016, Baker said, per an agreement Prince George’s County lawmakers made with the Baltimore City delegation in Annapolis.

Baker, who said he does not gamble and voted against slots when he was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, changed his tune when his office studied the issue and decided a casino at National Harbor could raise $69 million for the county.

The county executive joked that he made Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. mad when he did not immediately support the casino. But the study convinced Baker that the facility would be beneficial.

“It would make Maryland and Prince George’s County competitive in the Washington region,” Baker said.