MGM International’s new MGM National Harbor casino/resort in Oxon Hill, Md. was so busy this past weekend it asked potential visitors to consider coming another time. Thousands arrived for the casino/resort’s grand opening on Dec. 8 and it reached full capacity after only 45 minutes. Then people were turned away from the casino floor after reaching full capacity again on Dec. 9, and heavy crowds and traffic were reported all weekend long.

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On opening night, Dec. 8, MGM National Harbor employees put on a festival for patrons. (Photo by Rob Roberts)

Within 12 hours of opening, more than 50,000 people streamed through the massive MGM National Harbor Resort & Casino and passed its glittery array of 3,300 flashing slot machines, walked around its one-of-a-kind sculptures stretching up to a glass roof and strolled out onto an expansive terrace offering a chilly panorama of the Potomac River.

Industry observers note that the 1 million square foot casino/resort is expected to provide an economic boost for the region as the first full-scale gambling venue in Maryland featuring high-end restaurants and entertainment.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker told the AFRO he is “ecstatic” to see the project come to fruition. The casino created 6,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, 2,000 of those jobs are filled by county residents.

“I can’t believe the way it looks,” Baker said. “Part of attracting businesses and folks to come is the look. They want to go where things are happening, the buzz.”

The $1.4 billion casino/resort also lived up to its hype for many visitors, including Maureen and Paul Corley, who traveled from St. Mary’s County to the resort’s opening for their 32nd wedding anniversary. “It is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever seen – and we are world travelers,” Maureen told the AFRO.  “We wanted to stick close to home, but have the type of relaxation and dining experiences we would have had going to some distant destination. This has everything we wanted and we can still make it to church on Sunday.”

And proving it could give Vegas a run for its money, the resort has added a star-studded list of celebrity entertainers to its upcoming concert line up, including Boyz II Men, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars, Sting, Cher, Duran Duran, and Earth, Wind & Fire.