MGM National Harbor is the largest and most successful Maryland casino. Its excellent location on the harbor, just across the river from Alexandria, and a short drive from the nation’s capital certainly help. However, what keeps customers coming back to National Harbor is the state’s largest selection of slots and table games.
With a massive 125,000 square-foot gaming floor, MGM National Harbor has space for thousands of slot titles and an astonishing 200 table games. More than just casino gaming, the property offers a little something for everyone. Think of it less as a regional casino and more as a destination resort in a Las Vegas property style. There are several restaurants, high-end shopping, harbor access, and a hotel with a spa and other amenities.
Let’s look at the Maryland mega-casino and what makes it such an excellent location for Maryland gamblers. Additionally, we will discuss what role BetMGM will play at National Harbor when sports betting launches later next year.
Address: 101 MGM National Ave, Forest Heights, MD 20745
Phone number: (844) 646-6847
Opened in: 2016
Retail sportsbook: Not yet
Online sportsbook: Not yet
Gaming floor: 125,000 square feet
Slots: Over 3,000
Table games: 200
Poker room: Yes, 46 tables with a high limit area
Off-track betting: Yes
Hotel: Yes, with 300 rooms
MGM Resorts was a little late to the sports betting game in the initial wave of states with legal sports betting. However, thanks to a significant marketing push, BetMGM is now one of the bigger sportsbook app brands in the country.
BetMGM has an easy path to a sportsbook license in Maryland, thanks to the MGM National Harbor property. There is a specific Class A category of licenses for casinos, sports teams/venues, and horse racing facilities. For a $2 million upfront cost and a $500,000 renewal fee every five years, BetMGM will get a Class A-1 license for retail and online sports betting.
MGM National Harbor started planning once the November 2020 voter referendum ensured sports betting in Maryland would happen.
In March 2020, the casino started requesting and filing the necessary building permits to start construction on a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at the casino.
That retail sportsbook should be up and running in time for fall football betting. The betting app will likely not arrive until a couple of months later.
When it comes to the position of MGM in the DMV area, few are in a more high-profile situation. BetMGM was one of the first apps to launch in Virginia. Additionally, there will be a BetMGM Sportsbook at Nationals Park opening sometime in 2021.
There is arguably no casino in the state that rivals MGM National Harbor for a wide range of gambling options. The most extensive choice of slot machines, the most table games, and a massive poker room offer a little something for everyone.
The volume of slot machines available at MGM National Harbor is pretty astonishing. There are over 3,000 machines on the floor.
More important, though, is that there are several hugely popular titles from penny stakes to high limits. Stakes range from $.01 to $100. The 48 machines in the high limit area can also easily accommodate big wins. Each high-limit slot has QuickPay, which means big winners can quickly process and receive a W2G, the gambling winnings tax form for wins over $5,000.
There are opportunities to win big prizes on the main slot floor too. There are progressive slots in addition to regular titles from Scientific Games, Bally, Aristocrat, IGT, and others. Here is a look at some of the more popular titles:
There are also electronic versions of table games like roulette as well as video poker.
Most Maryland casinos offer maybe a dozen table games. MGM National Harbor has over 200. Not all may be open at the same time, but the number of tables means you will likely not be stuck waiting for a seat very often.
Casino customers have their choice of all the standard table games like blackjack and craps. There are also less popular titles like Casino War, Crapless Craps, and Spanish 21.
MGM National Harbor also offers something few casinos do: Quartz Hybrid Electronic Table games. These games feature a live dealer, but an electronic interface for players that allows them to play multiple hands of a game at once. There are 32 of these tables at the property.
Unlike Vegas, drinks are generally not free at Maryland casinos, however, there is a benefit for table games play. Players can get their own version of a happy hour with $4 drinks.
The poker room is on the second floor of MGM National Harbor, away from the noise and bustle of the casino floor. For the high rollers, there is also a special section of tables just for them. They can access safety deposit boxes as well.
In theory, the poker room offers no-limit hold ’em, Omaha, Stud, and mixed games. Like any poker room though, the non-flop games generally do not have enough interested players to run.
There are some tournaments running, but most of the promotions are for cash game players like lucky seat promos and high-hand jackpots.
Sometimes off-track betting gets a bad rap as a run-down facility with low-grade tech. The National Harbor racebook certainly bucks that trend. There are 24 screens throughout the 1,500 square-foot book along with 21 individual carrels with TVs.
The racebook works with The Maryland Jockey Club and is open from 11 a.m. – midnight every day.
As mentioned, MGM National Harbor has the kinds of amenities you usually find at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
The hotel connected to MGM National Harbor has 234 rooms as well as 74 suites. Since the hotel is relatively young, the rooms and amenities still feel very modern and upscale.
There are occasional promotions for room rates. Additionally, AARP members and members of the military get a discount. Members of the M Life Rewards program can also use their points for discounts and free rooms and enjoy special rates depending on what their M Life Rewards level is.
The venue also features a spa and salon, which can be handy for parties using the event space for celebrations like weddings.
It is very easy to have fun on the casino floor at MGM National Harbor, but if you aren’t much of a gambler, there are several bars and clubs to choose from. Mixology is such a huge part of the culture at the casino that the property even offers mixology classes. The bars you can choose from on property are:
There are arguably more restaurants at National Harbor than most Vegas casinos. Here is a look at all eight dining options:
MGM Resorts developed the $1.2 billion property after successfully bidding for one of the available Maryland commercial casino licenses in 2013. Construction broke ground on the facility in April 2014 and opened more than two years later on Dec. 8, 2016.
The property pays homage to its DC proximity with a marble building designed to look similar to the many federal buildings in the capital city. There are also numerous art installations honoring local artists.
That is not to say the casino is without scandal. The criticism of the property began in the construction phase when local businesses accused MGM of not hiring and contracting with enough minority-owned businesses.
Throw in a baccarat cheating scandal, on-site robberies, and the death of boxer Maxim Dadashev after a fight on the property, and you have a long list of negative incidents for a casino that has only been open since 2016.