BALTIMORE — The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission on Thursday determined that the three companies competing to build the state’s sixth casino in Prince George’s County met the requirements to receive a state gaming license.*
The decision, which followed an in-depth background investigation of the companies, allowed Penn National Gaming Inc., Greenwood Racing Inc. and MGM Resorts International to continue their bids to build a casino in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
Later this month, gaming commission officials will visit the sites where each company hopes to build its casino, with an eye to selecting one of the companies by the end of the year.
MGM Resorts International plans to build their facility near National Harbor, Penn National would place theirs at Rosecroft Raceway and Greenwood Racing’s would be in Fort Washington.
In determining that the three companies met the requirements for a gaming license, the commission found that they were financially stable and had “standing in good character,” John Mooney, the commission’s assistant director for enforcement, said at a hearing in Baltimore.
The investigation took a team of 21 accountants, financial analysts and members of the Maryland State Police five months to complete.
At the hearing, commissioners questioned representatives of Greenwood Racing and MGM Resorts International about previous business dealings with convicted felons.
They asked Greenwood Racing chairman and founder Robert Green whether he had recent contact with entrepreneur Robert Brennan, who was released from federal prison two years ago after being convicted of money laundering and bankruptcy fraud. Green said he had cut off all contact with Brennan.
They also asked MGM Resorts International chief executive officer Jim Murren about what steps the company had taken to avoid contact with ex-board member Terry Christensen, who was convicted of wiretapping in 2008. Murren said the company had severed all ties with Christensen.
The commission required that both Greenwood Racing and MGM Resorts International have no contact with Brennan and Christensen, respectively, in order to maintain a gaming license.
Commission chair Kimberly Robertson Pannell said she believed the companies have adequate controls in place to prevent such contact.
“I believe that the additional measures that we will take here at the agency will reinforce that, if they are the successful bidder,” she said in an interview.
Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing plan to fund their projects by refinancing debt on “other projects,” while MGM Resorts International would able to fund the project without refinancing other projects, Mooney said. Both MGM Resorts International and Penn National have executed labor agreements with gaming and hospitality worker unions, while Greenwood Racing has not, he said.
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission granted gaming licenses to three companies competing to build a casino in Prince George’s County. The commission found that the companies were eligible to receive gaming licenses in the future, but did not actually grant the licenses. The story has been updated to fix the error.