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In close vote, $150m Maryland Live casino expansion approved

Maryland Live! Casino. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record).

Maryland Live! Casino. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record).

A divided Anne Arundel County Council on Monday night approved The Cordish Companies’ plans to expand Maryland Live Casino.

The council approved the expansion in a 4-3 vote to create the Maryland Live Conference Center Development District, with members Michael Anthony Peroutka, Chris Trumbauer and chairman Jerry Walker voting against.

The approval comes as Maryland Live has had to fight off competition from Baltimore Horseshoe Casino and an upcoming challenge when the MGM Casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s County opens next year.

The county council’s approval included an agreement to borrow $22.5 million from the casino using a tax incremental financing bond, and using the money to help build about $20 million in infrastructure improvements to be owned by the casino, as well as related expenses.

The improvements include a $9.4 million, 269-space garage and a $4 million, 650-space parking lot. Other improvements include road widening and relocation, traffic re-signalization and relocation of public utility lines.

The bond would be repaid from property taxes levied on the increase of the assessed value on properties in the district.

The casino expansion, projected to cost more than $150 million, includes a new upscale hotel with about 300 suites, more dining options, and a conference center with a capacity for 4,000 people.

Under the agreement, the proposed conference center would be available for use by the county, public schools, the community college, and nonprofits free of charge.

The Cordish Companies will be responsible for all of the private financing for the expansion.

The expansion will create an additional 1,000 new permanent and construction jobs, according to a statement by The Cordish Companies.

Despite the competition from Horseshoe, Maryland Live has easily retained its status as the biggest of the state’s five casinos. In August, Maryland Live reported more than $52.1 million in revenue for the month from its 4,059 slot machines and 202 table games.

Still, that total is almost $5 million less than July and represents a $5.2 million or 9.1 percent decrease compared to August 2014, a decline industry experts attribute largely to Horseshoe’s impact.

All told, state revenue from all forms of licensed gaming topped $1 billion last year even as portions of the traditional lottery portfolio shrank under pressure from casinos, demographic shifts, consumer fatigue and a discontinued game.