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Inside Gaming: MGM National Harbor to Open; Big October for Nevada Casinos

MGM National Harbor
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  • There's a new casino opening in Maryland next week as the MGM National Harbor opens its doors.

  • Nevada casinos enjoy a big October; Caesars to start charging for parking in LV (but not at the Rio).

A new installment of Inside Gaming tells of the much-anticipated opening of a new Maryland casino scheduled next week, reports on very positive revenue for Nevada casinos in October, shares news of a lawsuit filed by an Atlantic City casino owner who wants to "make New Jersey great again" (sound familiar?), and notes Caesars' new plan to start charging for parking at its Las Vegas properties.

Maryland Readies for MGM National Harbor Grand Opening

It's almost here. After years of planning and a longer-than-anticipated period of construction, the grand opening of the $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor casino and resort on the eastern shore of the Potomac River in Prince George's County, Maryland finally arrives next Thursday, December 8.

It was back in 2012 that legislation was barely approved by the state's lawmakers permitting the casino's construction in Prince George's. The property features a 23-story, 308-room hotel, a 135,000-square-foot casino floor, a 3,000-seat theater, seven restaurants, a spa, plus other retail and event space and a large 4,800-car parking garage.

Speaking of cars, local residents are bracing for the influx of vehicle traffic once the casino opens. As The Washington Post reports, estimates have suggested more than 20,000 daily visitors to the new casino, which could affect traffic flow in the surrounding area.

Transportation officials are confident, however, that the many preparations made for next week's opening will minimize such problems. Indeed, more than $10 million in road improvements, including widening of roads and increased interstate access, were completed before the casino could be opened.

Meanwhile this week "controlled demonstration" tests are being administered by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to ensure the integrity of both the slot machines and table games, reports NBC Washington. Upon the successful completion of the tests, the state will issue the casino an official license to operate on December 6.

With Maryland gaming revenues having been on the rise all year, the MGM National Harbor (an artist's rendering of which appears above) will be the sixth casino operating in the state.

Check out the Washington Post's earlier story for an overview of the MGM National Harbor and its many features.

Big October Helps Nevada Casinos Enjoy Revenue Gains

Revenue numbers from October were issued on Tuesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, showing an impressive increase of just over 11.1 percent in casino revenue statewide year-over-year. The total gaming win among all of the state's casinos came in at a little more than $986 million, up from $887.5 million in October 2015.

The Strip in particular did well for the month, with reporting locations showing a collective increase of an even 14 percent year-over-year as the total gaming win jumped to $562.7 million over last year's $493.6 million.

The increases came despite the fact there was one less October weekend this year compared to last. Also, the Global Gaming Expo took place in September this year unlike in 2015 when it took place in October, although the hosting of the third and final presidential debate at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas on October 19 did attract a lot of attention and visitors.

The 14 downtown Las Vegas locations were collectively up 29.5 percent, while the 12 north Las Vegas casinos were also up 29.3 percent to help add to the state's overall gain.

Gaming Control Board Analyst Michael Lawton pointed out how even though the total amount of money wagered for the month was down 2.4 percent, the casinos nonetheless held more compared to October 2015, reports the Nevada Appeal.

Perhaps not coincidentally, sports betting was way up for the month with a total of $515.2 million wagered in the state's sportsbooks, the third-highest monthly total ever according to Lawton. Most of that was bet on football ($400.5 million) compared to $66.4 million on baseball including bets placed on World Series games between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

Go crunch the numbers yourself with a look at the NGCB's October 2016 report.

Revel Buyer Sues New Jersey Regulators Over Licensing Requirement

We've been reporting off-and-on here at Inside Gaming about the ongoing saga of the closed Revel Casino in Atlantic City, one of four casinos on the boardwalk that closed during 2014 with a fifth one — the Trump Taj Mahalrecently joining that list in October.

Following the Revel shutting its doors in September 2014, Florida-based real estate developer Glenn Straub bought the casino out of bankruptcy following a great deal of legal wrangling. In September of this year Straub announced the property would be rebranded as TEN, along with a plan to reopen the hotel-casino in March 2017.

This week came news that Straub has decided to sue New Jersey gaming regulators over the requirement that he obtain a casino license before TEN can reopen.

As the Associated Press reports, "Straub says he will be nothing more than a landlord renting space to a casino operator, and [therefore] doesn't need a costly casino license." Straub rather "intends to be a hands-off owner" with "no involvement in the casino/hotel's operation other than as a lessor."

The AP report compares Straub to president-elect Donald Trump, in part because of his Trump-echoing proclamation of an intention to "Make Atlantic City great again," but also because of his aspirations to become a casino mogul as well as his not being shy about litigation.

Straub filed his lawsuit against the New Jersey Casino Control Commission on Monday, with his lawyer, David Stefankiewicz, characterizing the commission's requirement that he personally obtain a license as needless and wasteful.

"Instead of creating roadblock after roadblock, the agency should be doing everything in its power to facilitate getting this casino opened," said Stefankiewicz.

Read more about Straub's suit from the AP.

Caesars to Implement Paid Parking at Vegas Properties (But Not at the Rio)

Finally, you might have heard something this week about the Caesars Entertainment Corp. announcing it's intention to discontinue free parking at eight of its Las Vegas casinos. We won't bury the lede for poker players and fans — the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino where the World Series of Poker is held is not among the eight properties where visitors will soon have to pay to park.

Indeed, as Consumerist passes along, the change from free parking to a "paid valet and self-parking initiative" will be implemented at every Caesars' Vegas property except the Rio — Caesars Palace, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Bally's, The Cromwell, The Flamingo, Harrah's, and Linq — and will start this month.

The move follows a similar change made by MGM Resorts International at its Las Vegas properties begun back in June.

Consumerist shares more about the announcement.

Image: MGM.

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