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MGM National Harbor Casino Resort Brings Las Vegas To The Potomac

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The MGM lion is seen in front of the 23-story hotel during a preview tour of the MGM National Harbor, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 in Oxon Hill, Md. The $1.4 billion National Harbor casino and resort is just outside the nation's capital.

Las Vegas got a beachhead on the Potomac River, not far from Washington, D.C.

The opening earlier this month of the $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor casino resort, about 10 miles downstream from the capital and across the river from Alexandria, Va., brings a Strip-style resort to the Mid-Atlantic.

Along with a casino, the property, which is in Oxon Hill, Md., features a hotel tower, conference center, celebrity-chef restaurants, concert venue, and $20 million worth of public art, including a 26-foot by 15-foot sculpted arch created by Bob Dylan.

A portion of Bob Dylan's "Portal," a metal collage with an aquatic theme, is seen during a preview tour of the MGM National Harbor, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 in Oxon Hill, Md. With an An art collection of 72 pieces by 33 artists will flow throughout the casino and even outside./(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

MGM Resorts International hopes to use this template as it develops resorts outside of established casino markets such as Las Vegas, according to Chris Sieroty, U.S. editor for Gambling Compliance.

“This is their model outside of Las Vegas," he said, "This is what they think people want.”

In the past, Sieroty said, projects outside Las Vegas or Atlantic City were really just "slot boxes," meaning they emphasized just gaming and didn't include high-end restaurants, entertainment, shopping or convention space.

MGM Resorts is betting that bringing the amenities of a Las Vegas resort to places outside Southern Nevada will be a winner for the company.

“[MGM CEO Jim Murren] is seeing it as a can’t miss," Sieroty said, "And he’s seeing it as an opportunity to have a successful resort casino in Maryland that he can use as sort of a marketing tool when they try to get casinos into Georgia and other states.”

The company is building a similar property in Massachusetts and invited a delegation from Georgia to tour National Harbor to show what it could build in Atlanta if that state legalizes gambling.

“People have been to Las Vegas and they like what they see and they would like in their backyard,” Sieroty said. 

Chris Sieroty, U.S. editor, Gambling Compliance

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.