Prince George’s County residents concerned about the proposed MGM casino at National Harbor shared their concerns over noise, the chance for African-American businesses to land jobs at the venue, and its impact on area charitable groups at a Tuesday meeting.
Members of the Prince George’s County Council voted 7-1 to approve zoning changes to allow the casino to operate at National Harbor.
But the council will hold more hearing and votes as the casino project takes shape, and advocates say there are more chances for residents to influence the development.
Council members said that while they are moving forward on development agreements and zoning changes, they are working to ensure that African Americans who live in and own businesses in the county will have a fair shot at the construction and casino jobs the project is going to create, reports FOX DC.
MGM’s National Harbor casino will be a $925 million development on the banks of the Potomac River.
The MGM casino would become the state's sixth casino when it opens. It's targeted squarely at potential gamblers from Virginia and Washington, D.C. It also will bolster Maryland's ability to challenge neighboring states for gambling dollars, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Jersey, analysts told the Baltimore Business Journal.
MGM’s plans call for a resort on a 23-acre site overlooking the Potomac River, near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the Washington Post says. The hilltop resort — expected to open in mid-2016 — will feature an 18-story, 300-suite glass hotel tower, along with 3,600 slot machines, 140 gaming tables, several celebrity-chef-driven restaurants, a concert theater, a spa, luxury retail stores, a reflecting pool and other amenities.
The county passed a bill to zone the National Harbor site for gambling. But it did not come without concerns.
"We ought to make sure that our African Americans and local business people get a piece of the pie," said Jerry Mathis at Tuesday night’s hearing.
Another resident said she doesn’t want the National Harbor casino to look “like something off of the Las Vegas strip.”
Other residents worry how the casino will affect the fundraising of local churches and charities.
What is clear is the project is moving forward, but not without a lot more public input.
In about two weeks, another bill will come up that will focus on the actual development plan. Council members say that bill will include language dealing with jobs.