MGM National Harbor Opens Outdoor Gaming and Smoking Terrace

Posted on: May 11, 2021, 10:11h. 

Last updated on: July 7, 2021, 01:12h.

MGM National Harbor is ready for the warm summer months, as well as guests who might prefer to light up a cigarette while gambling on a slot machine.

MGM National Harbor gaming patio Maryland
A slot player gambles at the new outside gaming space at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Maryland is one of nine states that does not allow indoor casino smoking. (Image: WTOP)

The $1.4 bill integrated casino resort just outside DC recently announced the opening of its Outdoor Gaming Terrace. The patio features 41 slot machines, including some of the most popular games, MGM says. A few notables are Dancing Drums, Buffalos, and 88 Fortunes.

The covered terrace is located on the north side of the building near the hotel tower. 

This [outdoor gaming] concept was in development before COVID,” Alex Alverado, vice president of casino operations at MGM National Harbor, told WTOP this week. “But I think COVID allowed us to reprioritize, and it felt like something that was more prudent than ever in these times.”

Maryland is one of only nine states that bans all indoor casino smoking. Though the slot machines are outside, the MGM Outdoor Gaming Terrace continues to practice social distancing by arranging the gaming terminals to allow for adequate space in between players. 

MGM National Harbor’s primary competitor — Live! Casino Hotel Maryland — opened its outdoor gaming facility in February of 2018. The Anne Arundel outdoor casino is considerably larger, with more than 150 slot machines, 12 live dealer table games, and 28 electronic table positions.

Live! Gaining Ground

MGM National Harbor’s outdoor casino space could be in response to Live! continuing to grab market share in Maryland.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, MGM National Harbor reported full-year gross gaming revenue of approximately $707 million. Live! was a distant second of the state’s five other commercial casinos at $601 million. 

In the 2020 pandemic-stricken year, however, Live! closed the gap. National Harbor’s GGR was $483.6 million, while Live! won $437.8 million. 

The spread between the gaming numbers continues to narrow. In March 2021, MGM won $66.5 million from gamblers, and Live! generated GGR of $61.1 million. Last month, MGM raked in $62.3 million, while Live! won $58.2 million. 

Readying for Sports Betting

Sports betting is soon coming to Maryland. Voters last fall approved a ballot referendum to amend the state constitution to include the expanded gambling. The General Assembly signed off on House Bill 940 last month. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is expected to sign the measure. 

Each of the state’s six casinos will be permitted to apply and acquire retail and mobile sports betting licenses. MGM National Harbor is in the process of converting floor space previously used for the casino resort’s food court into a sportsbook lounge. 

MGM National Harbor will apply for both retail and online sports betting privileges once allowed. BetMGM, the interactive gaming platform owned by MGM Resorts, which operates MGM National Harbor, is expected to be brought into the expanding Maryland gaming industry.