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MGM Bets on Atlantic City

It plans a $5 billion casino in the struggling market.

Updated from 9:17 a.m. EDT

MGM Mirage

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announced plans for a $5 billion casino development in Atlantic City, signaling long-term faith in a market that is struggling with increased competition from nearby states.

The project will be located on 72 acres of land owned by MGM next to its popular Borgata casino, which the casino operator owns with

Boyd Gaming

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. The budget will be $4.5 billion to $5 billion, not including the value of the land and associated costs, MGM said.

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The new resort increases the Las Vegas-based company's exposure to a market where overall gambling revenues have declined this year because of increased competition from Pennsylvania and New York. Both neighboring states introduced slot parlors in the past year.

For the first eight months of this year, gambling revenues in Atlantic City totaled $3.4 billion, down 4% from a year earlier, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. The upscale Borgata, which is MGM's sole property in the market, fared better, with a 2.7% revenue gain so far this year.

MGM said the development will offer the same amenities of an MGM Grand resort, which the company already operates in Las Vegas and Detroit.

The project will consist of three hotel towers and the largest casino floor in Atlantic City, with 5,000 slot machines, 200 table games and a large poker room. The site will also host restaurants and nightclubs, and a 500,000 square-foot retail destination and convention center.

"Our company has carefully considered the possibilities for our landholdings in Atlantic City," said Terry Lanni, chairman and CEO of MGM, in a statement. "We believe the success at Borgata demonstrates the eagerness for further evolution of the nation's second-largest gaming market. We will continue to raise the bar, and by doing so, hope to re-energize the city's resort offerings and attract a new market of affluent East Coast customers. We believe our new resort will generate very healthy returns for our shareholders."

About 60 acres of the site will be used for construction of MGM Grand Atlantic City, with 12 acres reserved for future development, which may include a residential component, the company said. MGM also owns an additional 14-acre site in the Marina District.

The company said it intends to file for government approval for the new casino later this year or in early 2008. Groundbreaking is expected in 2008, with an anticipated opening in 2012.

Shares of MGM were down 84 cents, or 0.8%, to $98.91 early Wednesday.