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Board Cites Opposition As A Reason Casino Rejected

Deborah Fitts

(April 2007) GETTYSBURG, Pa. - An unusually robust opposition was among the reasons that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected a proposal for a $350 million gambling facility that would have stood a mile from the battlefield.

In February the board released its reasons for denying the application of Crossroads Gaming Resort & Spa, which was to feature 3,000 slot machines plus a hotel and restaurants east of the battlefield. Voting unanimously in December, the board approved the state's first casino licenses for two facilities in Philadelphia, one in Pittsburgh, one in the Poconos and one in Bethlehem.

A new state law permitting casinos is designed to garner the state millions annually from each facility. Gettysburg native David LeVan and a group of investors were among those around Pennsylvania vying for the few available licenses.

The board made special mention of the fierce opposition to Crossroads, which was led by the grassroots group No Casino Gettysburg. During public testimony before the board in April and May 2006, "community group representatives and individual members of the community testified overwhelmingly in opposition to the project," the board stated, largely regarding Crossroads' proximity to the battlefield.

No Casino garnered more than 60,000 names on a petition against the casino. Several national groups joined the battle as well: the Civil War Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Parks Conservation Association formed the Stop the Slots Coalition.

In their findings, Control Board members also said there was no "credible" evidence that Crossroads would be able to compete successfully for Maryland and Washington gamblers who patronize gaming opportunities in Charleston, W.Va.; that Crossroads' plan to spend $350 million represented the smallest economic commitment of any of the applicants; and that Crossroads would likely generate less profit than other applicants' facilities.

The board also worried that if Maryland should approve slot machines, Crossroads' income - and the state's take - would drop by 20 percent.

No Casino leader Susan Star Paddock said her organization was ceasing operations. She noted that the controversy had prompted nearly two years of "an important conversation about values and economic development" in Gettysburg. "When this began, there was a lot more apathy in Adams County, and an attitude that begrudgingly accepted the ĺ─˛done deal.'"

Paddock urged No Casino volunteers to become more active in local politics and support local preservation groups like the Land Conservancy of Adams County.

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