Pennsylvania Residents Clash Over Proposed Gettysburg Casino

Posted on March 20, 2017

[toc]David LeVan tried twice before and failed, but that is not stopping him from once again trying to push through plans for a new racetrack and casino in the Gettysburg area.

The project, called Mason-Dixon Downs, is already drawing strong supporters and vocal critics.

LeVan introduced his plans for Mason-Dixon Downs at a Freedom Township Board of Supervisors last week. He announced his intention to apply for Pennsylvania’s last remaining gaming license earlier this year.

LeVan previously sought a PA gaming license in 2005 and 2010

This is the third attempt from LeVan, who previously tried and failed to bring gaming to the area in 2005 and again in 2010.

In order to get this plan through, he will need the approval of local governments like Freedom Township and Adams County. He will also need the okay of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the state horse racing commission.

The previous attempt by LeVan failed to get approval because there were four casino applicants for one license. The Gaming Control Board opted to award that license to Nemancolin Woodlands Resort.

Mason-Dixon Downs would be situated on property currently owned by Gettysburg Country Club. The tentative plans are subject to change to suit local zoning laws.

The purpose of the meeting is getting Freedom Township to alter zoning laws to allow a casino on the site. Once those elements are agreed to locally, LeVan will move the proposal to the state level.

The first step is to get the area rezoned. The zoning laws and the necessary racetrack licenses are new hurdles for LeVan in this third attempt to build a casino.

Critics of Gettysburg casino proposal concerned about state park

Like his previous bids to bring a casino to Gettysburg, the new proposal is divisive among residents.

A coalition of people known as No Casino Gettysburg want to keep gaming out of the area and preserve the sanctity of the historic Civil War battlefield.

The proposed casino is less than four miles from the Gettysburg National Military Park. Some suggest a “buffer zone” of ten miles around the park is necessary to protect the site.

LeVan is a local business owner in the area. He owns and operates the motorcycle dealership Battlefield Harley Davidson. LeVan appealed to the local economy at last week’s meeting, citing it as a reason why the area would benefit from a casino.

The timing of this opportunity can help Adams County at a time when it’s desperately needed…Freedom Township has a tremendous opportunity to help deliver our community’s golden goose,” he told Penn Live.

How much can Gettysburg earn from Pennsylvania gambling taxes?

It remains unclear exactly how much the township would benefit from casino tax dollars. The Keystone State has yet to find a solution on how to properly tax state casinos.

The previous method included a flat $10 million fee annually for all properties. That fee was ruled unconstitutional last year.

LeVan says he is open to negotiating with Adams County to work out an arrangement beyond taxation to ensure money would still be funneled back to the local government.

While LeVan appeals to economics, critics are circulating a petition appealing to an appreciation of history, which reads:

“Today, Gettysburg is once again under threat – not from warring armies, but from those who would seek to desecrate the memory of the Americans who fought there by constructing a harness racetrack and casino.”

LeVan asserts the tourism industry around Gettysburg supported the idea of a casino in the past and will do so again. If approved, it will be the only casino in the central part of the state.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a contributor to PlayPennsylvania and managing editor of PlayIndiana and PlayTenn. A longtime poker media presence, Jess has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com.

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