Mid-Atlantic Version of Vegas Opens in DC Area

MGM National Harbor features gaming, hotel, restaurant and retail space, including the first standalone shoe boutique by Sarah Jessica Parker.

Oxon Hill, Md.–With a grand opening on December 8, MGM Resorts International officially debuted MGM National Harbor, a mixed-use gaming resort just outside Washington, D.C., in Oxon Hill, Md. The global hospitality company has nicknamed the $1.4 billion development Vegas on the Potomac, and it’s the first luxury gaming resort to come to the D.C. area.

MGM National Harbor

MGM National Harbor (Photo credit: Stephen Wilkes)

“This level of private investment is unprecedented in the region, and so is what we’ve built,” Jim Murren, chairman & CEO of MGM Resorts International, said in a prepared statement “MGM Resorts has long promoted global trade and travel—and MGM National Harbor will be a significant driver of both, strengthening Washington, D.C., as a tourist magnet.”

It’s a mini-Sin City wrapped in a sleek 24-story structure on a 23-acre site. The fully integrated resort features 125,000 square feet of gaming space; 308 hotel rooms; 18,000 square feet of high-end retail and restaurant offerings, including the highly anticipated, first standalone shoe boutique by Sarah Jessica Parker; a 3,000-seat theater; 40,000 square feet of meeting space; and a 27,000-square-foot spa and salon. This is not your grandma’s casino. Designed by HKS Hospitality Group and built by general contractor Whiting Turner Construction Co., the LEED Gold-certified MGM National Harbor is also a model of sustainability, with a 700,000-gallon cistern for rainwater harvesting, one of the largest privately operated combined heat and power energy plants in the D.C. area., and electric vehicle charging stations and parking spaces for low-emitting-fuel efficient cars.

James Murren, CEO, MGM Resorts International,

James Murren, CEO, MGM Resorts International

Visitors poured through the doors the evening of MGM National Harbor’s opening, but every night won’t be opening night. Success hinges on demand, and the current state of the Mid-Atlantic casino market is a mixed bag. “The general consensus is that the Mid-Atlantic region is fairly well saturated in terms of gaming demand,” Brent Pirosch, director of gaming consulting with commercial real estate services firm CBRE’s Global Gaming Group, told Commercial Property Executive. He noted that the New Jersey market has been on the decline for more than a few years now, and West Virginia has experienced decreases in revenue due to rising competition.

However, it’s not all bad news for the region. According to Pirosch, the Pennsylvania market has gotten a boost from expanded table games offerings and in both New York and Maryland, numbers continue to go on the upswing. It appears today’s regional gaming climate bodes well for MGM’s newest project. “MGM National Harbor will take market share from nearby competitors, but the size and quality of the facility is expected to grow the market overall,” Pirosch added. “Virginia is relatively untouched by gaming supply, and National Harbor’s location will help it tap into additional customers from there.”