12/27/2013 11:54AM

MGM Resorts International gets casino license for Prince George's County

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A gamble by Penn National Gaming Inc. on Rosecroft Raceway, a struggling Maryland harness track, appears to have suffered a fatal blow with the state’s award of a casino license to MGM Resorts International a few miles from the track.

The Maryland Video Lottery Facility voted 5-2 to award the Prince George’s County license to MGM last week, scuttling Penn National’s bet that its purchase of the track in 2011 out of a bankruptcy auction would lead to a casino license. Maryland Casino, a company controlled by Greenwood Racing, owner of Parx Racing in Philadelphia, also had applied for the license.

Penn National has a contract with the state’s harness horsemen to conduct live racing through 2014, but the future of the track beyond next year is bleak. Penn National bought the track for $10.5 million in 2011, one year before the legislature authorized a casino for Prince George’s County, a plan approved by county voters the same year.

Under Maryland’s gambling law, 7 percent of gross gambling revenues at the state’s casinos goes to Thoroughbred and Standardbred purses and breeders’ awards, with Standardbreds getting 20 percent of the cut. The subsidies have allowed Rosecroft to raise purses over the past several years.

The Prince George’s County casino will not be allowed to open until 30 months after a casino in downtown Baltimore is opened. That casino is likely to open sometime next year.