Operators of a proposed $1.2 billion casino at National Harbor say they need the state to fix a legal conflict that sets the opening date for Maryland’s sixth and final gaming venue.
The requested change would effectively change the date that MGM was awarded a casino license, making it nine months after it was actually awarded by a state site selection committee.
A spokesman for MGM National Harbor said the change is needed to reconcile a conflict between state law and the request for proposal that set different opening dates for the new Prince George’s County casino.
“We’ve encountered what we believe are unintended conflicts between various state statutes,” Gordon Absher, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International and the facility proposed for Prince George’s County, said in a statement. “These are administrative issues and easily addressed by the Location Commission.”
MGM International Resorts, in an earlier filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced that it plans to open the National Harbor casino sometime in the second half of 2016. The request filed Dec. 5 with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Agency does not change that target date.
“This is strictly an issue of clarification and reflects no change in our plans or our construction schedule,” Absher said in his statement.
MGM officials became aware of the conflict in the law in recent weeks and requested the changes in a Dec. 5, 2014, letter to Donald C. Fry, chairman of the state Video Lottery Facility Location Commission.
State lottery officials scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon, hours after its regularly scheduled December meeting. The issues raised by MGM must be addressed by the location commission before it midnight Dec. 31, 2014 — the date the board is scheduled by law to dissolve.
At issue are two conflicting dates that establish when the new casino must open.
The state Video Lottery Facility Location Commission awarded MGM the Prince George’s County location on Dec. 23, 2013. Under the terms of the agreement at the time, the license became effective immediately.
“Unlike some prior licensee awards, however, the award to MGM was effective immediately and was not made expressly contingent on future events beyond MGM’s control,” Philip M. Andrews, a layer at Kramon & Graham, wrote in a letter to the state lottery agency.
Andrews wrote that there are “irreconcilable conflicts” between state law and the request for proposal for the Prince George’s County site including a portion of the law requiring that the Prince George’s County casino open no more than 30 months after the awarding of the license.
“Depending on which statutory provision or RFP section is applied, MGM must open the facility on July 1, 2016, and no other date; or only during the time span between June 23, 2015 and June 23, 2016 but no later,” Andrews writes.
Andrews asks that the commission amend the award and effective date of the license to Sept. 2, 2014 — a date representing the end of appeals on a detailed site plan approved by Prince George’s County. The change would reset the 30-month deadline to March 2, 2017.