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National Harbor analysis shows gains for all casino operators

The Maryland Live! casino next to Arundel Mills mall would be the only facility to lose gross revenue if a casino is built at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, according to an analysis sent to a state gambling work group, but every casino operator in the state would net a larger profit than they would under current law.

Andrew J. Moody, principal of Exton, Pa.-based Business Research & Economic Advisors, was hired by National Harbor casino advocates sent a letter to determine that impact of a National Harbor casino. Moody made his argument Friday in the first meeting of a work group studying expanded gambling, but sent a letter and detailed revenue projections to the work group Tuesday.

According to the analysis, gross gambling revenue at Maryland Live! would decrease 6.1 percent if a 3,000-slot facility was built at National Harbor, the state lowered its slots tax rate to 52 percent from 67 percent and table games were legalized with a 10 percent tax rate.

But the casino’s net profit would increase 54 percent because of the lower tax rate and the additional revenue generated by table games. A Baltimore casino would see their profit jump 69 percent, while other state casinos in Cecil, Worcester and Allegany counties would each see their profits jump by more than 120 percent.

The casino at Rocky Gap Lodge and Resort would stand to gain most, according to the analysis, with a 173 percent jump in operator profits.

The state would come out better, too, with a 7.3 percent bump in tax revenue — up to $795.5 million from a projected $741.2 million under current law — generated by the additional slots in Prince George’s County and taxes on table games.

The National Harbor casino would be the largest taxpayer among casino operators, contributing $279 million to the state’s coffers. The operator would net $434.8 million, almost $200 million more than The Cordish Cos. would net from the Maryland Live! casino.

The numbers, projected to be realized in fiscal year 2016, differ from projections by Cordish, which suggest the Maryland Live! casino would lose 40 percent of its market if a casino is built at National Harbor. That number, though, does not take into account what impact a lower tax rate might have.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is completing its own report, in conjunction with the state Department of Legislative Services, which will analyze the same scenario studied by Moody.