Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III should not have publicly endorsed National Harbor as the future site of a Prince George’s County casino, the presiding officer of the state Senate said Thursday.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s, said he wanted a casino built in southern Prince George’s County, but never wanted National Harbor to become the focus.
“That was Rushern Baker’s position, my position was either or,” Miller said. “I started out saying that it had to be Rosecroft [Raceway] and then National Harbor entered into it later, and then the county executive expressed, or opined, for National Harbor, which I thought was a mistake, as much as I like National Harbor.
“I thought the decision should be made by the commission. But we’ll let the commission make the decision and move forward.”
The state Video Lottery Facility Location Commission meets Thursday afternoon in Annapolis to discuss the request for proposals for the future Prince George’s casino. The perception of National Harbor as the front-runner to win that bid caused Penn National Gaming Inc., owner of Rosecroft, to spend $44 million fighting the expansion of gambling in Maryland, which voters approved on Election Day.
Miller, after helping to force a special session of the General Assembly in August to take up the gambling issue, says he won’t be closely watching the rest of the process.
“No, its in the hands of the commission,” Miller said. “I have no idea if, even, Penn is even going to put in a bid. But I think the voters have stated their choice, and I know the commission is going to be very objective, they’re going to look at economic benefits, they’re going to look at jobs and they’re going to look at the revenues to the state.”
MGM Resorts International Inc. is the favorite to bid on and win the Prince George’s license and build an MGM casino at National Harbor. But even once the commission makes its decision, Miller said the fight won’t be over.
“We have to be very careful what we say, because it’s going to wind up in litigation no matter what,” Miller said. “This is a money bill, it’s a money issue and if somebody spends $50 million to block it, the facility, they’re not going to give up at this point in time.”