PNGI Makes Pitch for Gaming at Rosecroft

Company touting revenue benefits from having gaming at Maryland racetrack.

Penn National Gaming Inc. is making its case for gaming at Rosecroft Raceway, the Maryland harness track it purchased earlier this year and will reopen for live racing Oct. 21.

PNGI presented studies on economic impact and market analysis to the Prince George’s County Council Oct. 5. The company has said it will lobby for expanded gambling in 2012, but there is resistance in the county to such a plan; a ban on casino-style gambling is under consideration by the county council.

Under current law five locations can have video lottery terminals in Maryland. Two are operating, one is under construction, and bids have been submitted for the other two. PNGI operates the VLT casino in Perryville in northeastern Maryland.

A percentage of revenue from all VLT facilities in Maryland goes to horse racing in the form of purses, breed development funds, and capital improvements.

Rosecroft wasn’t identified as a VLT site in the law but given its location—just south of Washington, D.C., and only minutes from northern Virginia—the track is considered a potentially lucrative gaming outlet. Some lawmakers are pushing legislation that would expand casino gambling to Rosecroft.

A Bowie State University study examined three scenarios for gaming at the harness track: VLTs and racing; VLTs and table games at Rosecroft and other facilities; and table games only at Rosecroft. The study says Prince George’s County could receive tax revenue of $1.3 million a year if the track only had table games, and up to $40 million if it had VLTs and table games.

A study by the Innovation Group says total gaming tax revenue would be $372 million in 2014 with just VLTs and horse racing, and $394 million in 2014 with VLTs and table games.

PNGI said it would spend $49 million to $439 million on construction depending on the scope of the project.

“Given the enormous potential for new revenue and significant new jobs for Prince George’s County, as well as the state, we’re hopeful that Rosecroft will be allowed the opportunity to offer gaming,” said Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs for PNGI.