It’s certainly looking like Penn National Gaming and MGM International‘s feet are firmly planted in the sand as far as their side on Maryland’s expanded gambling ballot is concerned; or akin to two poker players continuously raising and re-raising one another in the poker table, Penn National Gaming has raised MGM’s recent $3 million in donations with another $4 million of their own in support of defeating the expanded gambling bill. On top of the $5.4 million they’ve already pledged, the additional $4 million brings Penn National Gaming’s total to just a little under $10 million.
What’s your move now, MGM?
Penn National has been a staunch opponent of the expanded gambling bill, determined to secure the sixth casino license for themselves with a proposal of putting a casino at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County. But whereas they see Rosecroft as a feasible site for a new casino, Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III and a number of other civic leaders have pushed for the casino site to be built in National Harbor, the site where MGM hopes to have their casino built. Peterson Cos., the developer of National Harbor has pledged $400,000 to the pro expansion movement, a decision that could be attributed to its reported agreement with MGM should the latter win the casino bid.
Caesars Entertainment, another company that has supported the pro-expansion cause, is doing so for its own benefit if only because it would allow its Baltimore casino to have table games and a more favorable tax rate.
With seemingly everyone on the side of expansion, Penn National Gaming does have an ally in the Cordish Cos., the operator of Maryland Live!, who last month, responded to rumors of MGM’s back-channeling by saying that the process should take its natural course in fairness to those interested in making bids. “A basic premise of any potential changes to gaming laws in Maryland, especially the addition of a potential new sixth mega-casino, should be fairness to the existing licensees such as us that have made massive investments based on the state’s current rules,” said Cordish Cos. managing partner, Joe Weinberg.
Then again, with the way Penn National Gaming and MGM International are going at it, we wouldn’t be surprised if this battle ends up being decided on who puts out more.