Caesars joins MGM Resorts in backing plan for Maryland casino growth

It’s now two-against-one in Maryland.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. has jumped into Maryland’s casino expansion campaign, siding with MGM Resorts International in supporting voter approval of a casino in suburban Prince George’s County.

Caesars, which heads an investors group that holds a license to build a casino in Baltimore, has increased its contributions to the "Yes on Question 7" campaign to $2.3 million.

Caesars isn’t thrilled about Maryland adding a sixth casino and increasing gaming competition. However, passage of a ballot referendum would allow the planned $300 million Harrah’s Baltimore to add table games and lower its tax rate.

MGM Resorts, which could be in line to build a $700 million hotel-casino complex in National Harbor if Question 7 passes, is leading the push for passage of the ballot measure. The company has contributed $8.4 million to the effort. The developer of National Harbor, a retail, dining, entertainment and residential complex along the Potomac River, has kicked in $400,000.

On the other side, Penn National Gaming has donated $9.5 million to an anti-expansion campaign committee.

Penn has argued that the expansion plan is unfair. The company owns Rosecroft Raceway, which would be eligible to bid for a Prince George’s casino license. But the company argues MGM Resorts has already lined up the deal.

Penn also operates a casino in Charles Town, W.Va. Analysts said the casino would lose business if Maryland gambling expands.

The total donations from the gaming companies, more than $20 million, have made Question 7 the most expensive campaign in ever in the state of Maryland.