Maryland Live! Casino to Unveil $200 Million Hotel Tower in Bid to Take on MGM National Harbor

Posted on: June 4, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: June 4, 2018, 02:49h.

Maryland Live! casino will open a $200 million hotel tower on Wednesday as it seeks to challenge MGM National Harbor’s dominance of the regional market.

Maryland Live!
Maryland Live!’s new hotel tower will open Wednesday on the casino’s sixth anniversary. The property was expected to struggle after the launch of the MGM National Harbor, but analysts’ gloomier predictions have not materialized, and both properties are experiencing growth. (Image: Cordish Companies)

The high-end hotel, the tallest building in Anne Arundel County — and that includes the state capital Annapolis — boasts 17-stories of “plush” rooms, according to the Baltimore Sun, and is adorned with fine art from the collection of David Cordish, CEO and chairman of The Cordish Companies, the Baltimore-based group that owns the Live! casino chain.

The tower is the centerpiece of a series of recent improvements that include new bars and restaurants, as well as a spa and 4,000-seat concert and event hall, currently under construction. The hotel will open on the casino’s sixth anniversary.

National Harbor Raises the Stakes

The state’s casino landscape was very different when Maryland Live! entered the market in 2012 with just two, smaller competitors. Three casinos have joined since, including the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and, in December 2016, MGM Resorts’ $1.4 billion National Harbor.

The latter, built on the banks of the Pontiac, swiftly came to dominate the sector, capturing the footfall from nearby Washington DC and challenging Maryland Live!’s monopoly of the Virginia market.

The National Harbor has become MGM’s fifth best-performing property by revenue in the US, outperforming many of its Strip properties, like Luxor, New York-New York, The Mirage and Excalibur.

Predictably, it quickly began to vacuum up Live!’s customers. The Cordish property reported month of declining revenues, but it has rallied since. Analysts in 2013 predicted the National Harbor would take 23 percent of Live!’s revenue but this scenario has not materialized – at least not yet.

Alive! and Kicking

And Live! is fighting back. The casino has long since returned to growth. April revenue grew 3 percent year on year, to $46.8 million, placing it a healthy second in Maryland behind the National Harbor’s $57.7 million.

National Harbor is also currently undergoing improvements and renovations, but, for now, both properties have found a way to co-exist in the market.

“In gaming, everyone plays blackjack the same way, they all have the same odds, everyone has a roulette wheel,” David Cordish, the patriarch of a property empire that spans four generations, told the Baltimore Sun this week. “The difference is what’s around it,” he added.

Unfortunately for Cordish, it’s a premise MGM understands only too well.