By SYDNEY PAUL
BALTIMORE—The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission on Thursday gave gambling licenses to the three companies competing to build the states sixth casino in Prince Georges County.
The decision to give Penn National Gaming Inc., Greenwood Racing Inc. and MGM Resorts International video lottery terminal operating licenses followed an in-depth background investigation of the companies.
Later this month, gaming commission officials will visit the sites where each company hopes to build its casino, with an eye to selecting one of the companies by the end of the year. MGM Resorts International plans to build their facility near National Harbor, Penn National would place theirs at Rosecroft Raceway and Greenwood Racings would be in Fort Washington.
The commission granted operating licenses to the three companies Thursday after finding that they were financially stable and had standing in good character, John Mooney, the commissions assistant director for enforcement, said at a hearing in Baltimore.
The investigation took a team of 21 accountants, financial analysts and members of the Maryland State Police five months to complete.
At the hearing, commissioners questioned representatives of Greenwood Racing and MGM Resorts International about previous business dealings with convicted felons.
They asked Greenwood Racing chairman and founder Robert Green whether he had recent contact with entrepreneur Robert Brennan, who was released from federal prison two years ago after being convicted of money laundering and bankruptcy fraud. Green said he had cut off all contact with Brennan.
They also asked MGM Resorts International chief executive officer Jim Murren about what steps the company had taken to avoid contact with ex-board member Terry Christensen, who was convicted of wiretapping in 2008. Murren said the company had severed all ties with Christensen.
The commission required that both Greenwood Racing and MGM Resorts International have no contact with Brennan and Christensen, respectively, in order to maintain their gaming license.
Commission chair Kimberly Robertson Pannell said she believed the companies have adequate controls in place to prevent such contact.
"I believe that the additional measures that we will take here at the agency will reinforce that, if they are the successful bidder," she said in an interview.
Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing plan to fund their projects by refinancing debt on other projects, while MGM Resorts International would able to fund the project without refinancing other projects, Mooney said. Both MGM Resorts International and Penn National have executed labor agreements with gaming and hospitality worker unions, while Greenwood Racing has not, he said.