While Prince George’s and state officials wrangle over whether or not a casino will be built in the county, there’s one local business owner who feels he’s been left out of the process.

Charles Hopkins wants in the deal. He says now is the time for the state to make good on its goal to have minority business participation. Out of all the current or planned gaming facilities in the state, his would be the only one that was Black-owned.

“As an African-American owned company based in Prince George’s I represent this county and by the state not allowing someone like me to step forward and make a bona fide proposal it speaks to a very negative fashion as to how we view the county’s constituents,” Hopkins said. “We shouldn’t just be good enough as patrons.

We have to be better than that. We have to be owners.”

He says he has a plan that will be more cost effective and more accessible than either one of the two locations mentioned repeatedly, National Harbor and Rosecroft Raceway, and wants the chance to prove that to the county’s residents.

“I think that the citizens of Maryland deserve the opportunity to look at all options and all proposals and really get the best possible deal for the state,” he said.

“Without competition, there’s no certainty that they’ll get the best deal.

“I’m confident that when they view our option they’ll see it’s the best,” he continued.

Hopkins’ plan would build a casino at the Boulevard at Capital Centre. He says the fact it has major roadways, a metro station and other shopping and entertainment options nearby gives it a distinct advantage over any other location discussed.

“The time and money that would be saved developing our location is far and away a better option for the taxpayers of Maryland than what they’ll experience in investing additional time and additional money in building out similar infrastructure at either Rosecroft or National Harbor,” he said.

Despite his plea, the fight over where exactly the casino would be is still premature. Officials still haven’t agreed on terms on whether to approve the bill to be sent to ballot initiative. That initiative would allow for table games to be placed at the state’s five approved casino sites along with a sixth site to be built somewhere in Prince George’s County.

The latest addendum to that bill would call on state residents, rather than just county voters, to approve the location, a contentious point among some residents and officials in the county. Meanwhile, the operators of the new casino at Arundel Mills believe a sixth casino would oversaturate the market.

Despite that, the bill does have support. Caesar’s, which is planning to build a high-end casino at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, is in favor of a sixth site.

Hopkins agrees with Caesar’s. He says competition forces companies to focus on their customers to create a better product.

“Frankly, if you think about competition there’s no more competitive market than Las Vegas,” he said. “You have casinos right next to each other and each of them is doing fabulously well because competition forces them to reach new heights. As a result, everybody wins.”

Charles Hopkins 240-421-7034 301-718-3402

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO