The last available horsetrack and casino license in Pennsylvania has so far drawn interest from just one bidder who has a contentious plan. David Levan, a developer from Adams County has applied for the license, proposing to set up the facility near the historical site of Gettysburg in the state. The proposal has already become mired in controversy.
History buffs worldwide and local conservationists have opposed the plan saying a casino in the area would negatively impact the experience for visitors. The National Parks Conservation Association criticized the plan in a recent statement.
In a statement, the NPCA said,
With over one million families, school groups and other visitors drawn to the battlefield each year, Gettysburg National Military Park has already proven to be an enduring part of the community. Approving a horse race track and casino would forever change this treasured place.
An online petition initiated by Gettysburg conservationists has so far received 7,000 signatures. Levan has refuted the concerns by pointing out that the horse-track and casino facility would be over three miles away from the national park.
James Paddock, of No Casino Gettysburg said that it would still be too close to the site highlighting that the road on which the casino would be located leads to the battlefield site.
Paddock added that the opening of a casino in the vicinity might put off visitors to the site. This is not the first time that Levan has sought a license for a casino in Gettysburg but the latest plan places the casino furthest from the celebrated battleground. Experts have however suggested that a 10-mile buffer be placed.
Levan responded to the claim by stating that tourism figures for the city had been dropping in recent years. He also pointed out that fears of increased crime, traffic and similar issues projected in other casino projects had not come to fruition. Casinos were benefiting local communities by generating thousands of jobs and millions in revenue based on his views.
Brett Revington, director of the Bureau of Standardbred Racing for the Department of Agriculture said no formal application has been received yet. The licensing process has been reopened as a result of the state’s Gaming Control Board rejecting a proposal to build a racino near New Castle. Lawrence Country was chosen as a site for locating a racino when the state legalized slots in 2004.
A possible reason for the lack of interest could be due to the fact that lawmakers are faced with a budget deficit and are looking at raising revenue via gambling expansion through slots in bars, airports, truck stops etc.