Gaming board says no to Gettysburg casino

By Tim and Elizabeth Rowland
7/20/2011 • America's Civil War, Civil War 1863, Civil War Battlefields, Confederate Generals, Gettysburg, Open Fire

No gambling for historic Civil War town

Preservationists claimed victory in Gettysburg this spring when for the second time in five years, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected plans for a casino on the fringes of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The issue had turned into an at-times testy debate over jobs versus heritage, with opponents arguing that the gambling halls would besmirch the honor of the 50,000 soldiers killed or wounded on the field over three July days in 1863. Pro-casino forces contended that the community needed the jobs and tax revenue more than ever to weather the poor economy.

In the end, the board sided with historians, voting 6-1 April 14 to give the state’s last re­maining license—which permits up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games—to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington. The lone dissenting member favored a resort in the Poconos.

“Both personally, and on behalf of our members, I would like to thank the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their thoughtful deliberation and insightful decision,” said Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer. “By stating that the hallowed ground of America’s most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise, they have reiterated the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to its priceless history and upheld its obligation to protect such sites from wanton and unnecessary degradation.”

Local businessman David LeVan and Florida attorney Joseph Lashinger sought a license for the proposed $75 million Mason Dixon Resort & Casino at the Eisenhower Inn, about a half-mile from South Cavalry Field in the battlefield park. LeVan also sponsored the earlier proposal, for a different location, that was turned down in 2006.

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