Opposition grows to Gettysburg casino
On the eve of the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), more than 270 American historians, including many prominent academics, today sent a clear message to the Pennsylvania gaming authority that they are united in their opposition to a proposed casino one-half mile from the country’s most famous battlefield.
Among the well-known historians who signed the letter are James McPherson, Edwin C. Bearss, Garry Willis, Jeffrey Wert and Carol Reardon. A coalition of six historical organizations, jointly representing more than 35,000 historians and researchers, has also joined in the effort.
Their message is this: There are many Pennsylvania sites for a casino but only one Gettysburg.
Although the site of the proposed casino is outside the Gettysburg National Military Park boundaries, it is still within the Gettysburg battlefield. The area, known as the South Cavalry Field, saw substantial fighting on the third day of the battle.
McPherson, best known for his Pulitzer prize winning book,"Battle Cry of Freedom," said of the South Cavalry Field, "This ground is as hallowed as any other part of the Gettysburg battlefield, and the idea of a casino near the fields and woods where men from the North and the South gave the last full measure of devotion is simply outrageous."
This is round two of an attempt to locate a casino near Gettysburg. In 2006, after a deluge of public criticism of another proposed casino also near the battlefield, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board turned that applicant down. The principle investor involved in the latest bid for a casino license, Gettysburg native and business owner David LeVan, was also involved in the first attempt.
LeVan’s business venture, the Mason-Dixon Resort & Casino, has an option to purchase the existing Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center just south of the national park and has said it would transform it into an estimated 600-slot casino and luxury 300-room hotel offering live entertainment and dining.
LeVan maintains a casino would be good for Adams County because it would generate local jobs, increase the number of visitors to the area and give the state much needed revenue.
The state gaming authority, founded in 2004 when casino gambling was introduced to the state, has accepted five applications for the one license available for a slots-only casino. No date has been set for a public hearing.
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