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County big winner with casino says Pr. George's Baker

Saturday - 12/21/2013, 2:42pm  ET

nationalharbor.jpg
Artists rendition of MGM Resorts International, which is coming to National Harbor. (Courtesy MGM Resorts Intl)

BOWIE, Md. - It's slated to be the sixth casino in Maryland and it's coming to the National Harbor.

Slots, high-end retail stores, celebrity chefs, and a luxury spa are all part of the plan to build a destination resort casino. MGM Resorts International won the license for the $925 million resort on Friday.

"The MGM destination resort is going to attract not only folks from this region but people who come to the Washington region to visit," says Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker.

Baker calls National Harbor the best site on the east coast and says it will provide $41 million in additional revenue for the county. "I'm very excited. This is a huge day not only for Prince George's County, but for the state of Maryland and the region."

The resort includes a 300-suite hotel with a luxury spa, rooftop pool, seven restaurants. The casino will operate 3,600 slots and 140 table games including poker.

But critics say the noise and traffic will cause problems in the community. Baker did not support gaming in the state either, but now says it will be a big moneymaker for the county and will create 4,000 jobs.

"I admitted to folks when we started this process that when I was in the legislature, I voted against gaming in Maryland and wouldn't support this project had we not already passed it."

Once gaming came to Maryland, Baker chose to maximize the positives, and minimize the negatives.

"There is gaming in Maryland so my next reaction is: how do we get the greatest return with the least harm to the residents? The way to do that is to have a high- end destination resort that attracts people who have additional dollars," says Baker.

Prince George's Racing Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Penn National, and Maryland Casino LLC, a subsidiary of Greenwood Racing, also proposed building a casino in Prince George's County, not far from Washington.

Maryland voters approved a casino in the county last year after lawmakers agreed to expand gambling in a special session.

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