WASHINGTON — Even with a late-night opening Thursday, the MGM National Harbor Casino and Resort attracted throngs of people, from government officials and celebrities to residents all over the D.C. area.
The opening was scheduled for 11 p.m., but the doors opened a half-hour early given the overflow crowd of people waiting to get in. By 11:15, the parking garages and casino were at capacity.
At 3:30 a.m. Friday, people were still only being let in as others left. By 7, space was opening up around the tables.
Visitors had a variety of reactions:
Fahim Shir, from Vienna, said it took two hours to get to the casino for the grand opening Thursday night. He and a friend got there before the doors opened at 10:30 p.m. and stayed until the wee hours of the morning.
“It was beyond expectations, honestly,” he said. He says dealing with the cold and the crowds was worth it. He and his friend ended up parking at the Tanger Outlets and walking to the casino.
Quan Johnson, from Woodbridge, said that he would come back to MGM National Harbor for dinner and a show, but not to gamble. “I think the place outside is nice and the hotel. But as far as the casino part, it’s pretty small.”
Jackie Montague, of Alexandria, visited the casino with her husband. “This is the best thing to happen on this side of town. We needed this,” she said. Montague was taken by all the gold and glitz of the new MGM, “It’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve been to in many years. It’s just amazing.”
“I’m really excited; I don’t have to drive to Baltimore anymore,” said Che Johnson, of Upper Marlboro.
For Temple Hills resident Roosevelt Littlejohn Jr., the late-night traffic wasn’t so daunting. “Traffic was fine; they had enough people out there showing you how to get in,” he said.
Gaithersburg resident Jamaa Hill called the casino beautiful and, while holding her bag, said, “It’s gonna be full of money by the time I leave.” Her plan of action? “I’m going to gamble safe.” She was heading to the blackjack table.
Dignitaries at the opening included Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and chefs José Andrés and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio.
People who had entered as part of the VIP party walked around and took in the sights, including Sarah Jessica Parker’s boutique, where the actress and businesswoman was in attendance. Music included an orchestra in the main lobby.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo, Kathy Stewart, Teta Alim and Rick Massimo contributed to this report.