MGM’s $1.4 bil­lion Na­tional Har­bor casino set to open.

State’s casino taxes change when MGM opens

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRIAN WITTE

AN­NAPO­LIS | Two Mary­land casi­nos will keep a higher share of slot ma­chine rev­enue when MGM Na­tional Har­bor opens on Thurs­day, in a deal state law­mak­ers made years ago to reduce their taxes once new com­pe­ti­tion en­ters the mar­ket.

No one knows how Mary­land’s gam­ing rev­enue will change once MGM opens, but law­mak­ers are hop­ing to col­lect more money over­all for the state’s Ed­u­ca­tion Trust Fund and other pro­grams that ben­e­fit from gam­bling in­come.

Mary­land Live! in Anne Arun­del County will in­crease its share of slot ma­chine pro­ceeds from 41 per­cent to 49 per­cent. Horse­shoe Bal­ti­more’s share will rise from 39 per­cent to 46 per­cent. They are the two Mary­land casi­nos clos­est to MGM, which will get 44 per­cent of the slot ma­chine rev­enue gen­er­ated at Na­tional Har­bor.

The larger share of slot ma­chine rev­enues for Mary­land Live! and the Horse­shoe means less money from those two casi­nos for the trust fund, which sup­ports pre-K through 12 pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, pub­lic school and higher-ed­u­ca­tion con­struc­tion, and cap­i­tal im­prove­ments in­clud­ing com­mu­nity col­leges. The trust fund will get 36 per­cent of slot ma­chine money from Mary­land Live!, in­stead of 43 per­cent. And the fund will get 39 per­cent of slot rev­enue from the Horse­shoe, rather than 45 per­cent.

Still, the fund stands to gain over­all by get­ting a new boost from MGM’s casino next to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal in Prince Ge­orge’s County. The fund will re­ceive 41 per­cent of MGM slot ma­chine rev­enue.

In an­other change, 5 per­cent of ta­ble game rev­enues now will go to­ward lo­cal grants to mit­i­gate the im­pact of casi­nos on sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties. That re­duces the share that goes to ed­u­ca­tion to 15 per­cent. Casi­nos will still keep 80 per­cent of ta­ble-game rev­enues.

It’s not the first time Mary­land has changed the tax rate set in 2008, when vot­ers first ap­proved a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment al­low­ing five slot ma­chine casi­nos. At first, the tax on the first five casi­nos was one of the na­tion’s high­est, as casi­nos were al­lowed to keep only 33 per­cent of the rev­enue.

But law­mak­ers ad­justed the rates when they ex­panded gam­bling to al­low the MGM casino and ta­ble games like black­jack in 2012. Part of the agree­ment called for the state’s larger casi­nos to own the slot ma­chines, an ex­pense ini­tially car­ried by the state.

The por­tion of rev­enues for the Rocky Gap Casino in west­ern Mary­land was bumped up from 33 per­cent to 50 per­cent, af­ter the casino had trou­ble draw­ing a bid­der. The share of slot ma­chine rev­enue for the Casino at Ocean Downs, near Ocean City, was in­creased from 33 per­cent to 43 per­cent in 2012.

The state’s casi­nos gen­er­ate hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars each year for state ini­tia­tives.

When MGM opens, the amount steered to­ward boost­ing horse rac­ing purses will drop slightly from 7 per­cent to 6 per­cent at five casi­nos.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

The $1.4 bil­lion MGM Na­tional Har­bor casino and re­sort will open this week, and its “Blos­som” cock­tail lounge of­fers a nod to the cherry blos­soms that are a spring­time fea­ture of life in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

The MGM lion, also present at the com­pany’s Las Ve­gas prop­erty, greets vis­i­tors to Na­tional Har­bor.

In ad­di­tion to re­tail and en­ter­tain­ment, gam­bling will be a fea­ture of the MGM Na­tional Har­bor.

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