Local elected officials from Alexandria and the Route 1 corridor have told Patch they believe the creation of a proposed casino at National Harbor would not have a great effect on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.
State Del. Scott Surovell, D-44th, said he has no moral opposition to gambling but would support only bills that include a fair deal for taxpayers. A casino at National Harbor might produce some pressure to build more hotels in the northern Route 1 area, he said.
“I just wish there was something we could do on our side of the river to bring that type of investment and jobs next to the Beltway there,” Surovell said. “I think that area has a lot of potential, but it needs some infrastructure development, and I think the county really needs to make it a priority for investment.”
Earlier this month, the Maryland Senate passed a bill that would allow table games such as blackjack and a casino in Prince George’s County. The vote came after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley called a special session to resolve the debate over expanding gambling in the state.
The measure has stalled in the Maryland House of Delegates. Voters would have to approve the expanded gambling plan in November before it could take effect.
The developer of National Harbor has engaged in negotiations with MGM Resorts, a major gaming company, to operate a casino at the development, which sits across the Potomac River from Alexandria. Nearby Rosecroft Raceway has also been mentioned as a potential site for a new gambling venue.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-30th, said he personally doesn’t approve of casino gambling but thinks a casino at National Harbor could be a draw for Virginia residents.
“It’s clearly Maryland’s decision what they want to do in their state, and the only concern that I would have is if we have any kind of traffic problems,” he said. “But I think the bridge and the approaches to the bridge seem able to handle that.”
State Sen. Toddy Puller, D-36th, said she had heard no feedback from her constituents about the proposed casino and hoped, if allowed, it wouldn’t affect people living in her district.
“It may increase the water taxi situation down in Alexandria, and that would probably actually be a good thing, but I don’t want any kind of gambling on our side, and I hope it would not have any other effect than helping some of the businesses in Old Town.”
Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka, who is running for state delegate in the 45th district, said he didn’t foresee a great effect on Alexandria if the bill becomes law.
“We get a lot of business from National Harbor from people looking for more of an authentic, historic town experience, and I don’t think that’s going to change, and I don't think it's going to create any kind of specific spilllover problems for our town,” he said.