FORT WASHINGTON, Md. - Pennsylvania-based Penn National is one of three companies vying for a lucrative casino license up for grabs in Prince George's County. To sweeten the pot, the company behind the Hollywood Casino Resort brand has promised to donate its first 15 years of profit to the county.
Karen Bailey, vice president of public affairs for Penn National, says the goal is to allocate the money into three different areas.
For the first 10 years, half of the profits will go to the "Prince George's County hospital system and the new build out of their new satellite health care facilities throughout the county," Bailey says. There is a $100 million cap on the hospital payout.
A large percentage of the remaining profits will go toward a countywide retirement fund for teachers that Bailey says should be worth $219 million by year 15.
"Teachers now have an incentive not only to come to Prince George's County to teach, but to stay here," she says.
Funding also would go to community organizations in Prince George's County's District 8. It's estimated that more than $300 million will be infused into the county as profits are handed over.
The company also promises that 1,600 jobs will be created with the casino.
The Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission -- the group tasked with awarding the license -- on Monday toured the site of the proposed $700 million casino at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, before heading to a nearby high school auditorium to watch a presentation from Penn National and listen to comments from the public on the proposal.
Maryland Delegate Veronica Turner, D-Prince George's, says her constituents near the raceway don't want a casino in their backyards.
"They want it, but they do not want it in the residential area. They prefer that it is going to be at National Harbor," Turner says.
Turner says the National Harbor area -- where MGM hopes to build a casino -- is better equipped to handle the increased traffic and has more access to public transit than Fort Washington.
Maryland Casino, LLC -- a subsidiary of Greenwood Racing, Inc., which operates Parx Casino in Pennsylvania -- also hopes to build a casino complex in Fort Washington, but at the intersection of Indian Head Highway and Old Fort Road.
There were a lot of supporters of the Penn National plan on hand Monday, including Joyce Thorpe of Fort Washington, who says the Rosecroft location makes sense because the environmental impact would be very minimal.
"There are trees totally surrounding the area and they have always had free parking," she says.
Forest Heights Councilwoman Cynthia Mann, Ward 2, says the town council is in support of Penn National's plan.
When it comes to National Harbor, Mann says, "We can barely get home as it is. So, revitalize Rosecroft and get it over with."
Donald Fry, chairman of the state's video lottery location commission, says after officials hear the three proposals this week -- along with the public's reaction to them -- the commission will take time to study and discuss the proposals before making a decision in December.
Greenwood Racing will present on Wednesday with MGM going in front of the commission on Friday.
More information about the events are available on Maryland's gaming website.
This story has been modified to correct the title of Forest Heights Councilwoman Cynthia Mann.
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