PA kicks off Civil War 150th events, as board weighs Gettysburg casino

The same week that Gov. Corbett kicks off the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, gaming regulators may make their decision about whether to build a casino one-half mile from the Gettysburg battlefield.

After more than a year of pitched debate, the seven-member Gaming Control Board appears set to issue the second so-called "resort" license to one of four applicants. (The first was awarded to Valley Forge Convention Center in 2009.)

The board meets Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the State Museum to consider applications from Mason Dixon Resort and Casino (Gettysburg), Nemacolin Woodlands (in the southwest), RV World (in Mechanicsburg, west of Harrisburg) and Fernwood Resort (the Poconos).

The license will allow 500 slot machines and 60 table games.

Mason Dixon, led by former Conrail CEO and former Philadelphia school board member David LeVan and former state Rep. Joe Lashinger, wants to open a casino at the Eisenhower Inn and Conference Center, southeast of the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Supporters, including local business leaders and county commissioners, argue a casino will bring much-needed jobs and revenue to Gettysburg and the surrounding area. Opponents - among them the Civil War Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a slew of celebrity authors, actors and directors, say a casino will forever spoil the sacred ground and tarnish the historical significance of the battlefield. (The Civil War Trust released a poll last week showing - surprise - that two-thirds of Pennsylvanians oppose putting a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield.)

Gaming board officials say they are uncertain whether the board will issue a license at this meeting.

“It’s on the agenda for consideration, but that does not necessarily mean there will be a decision,” said spokesman Richard McGarvey. "I can’t say 100 percent there will be a vote.”

Vote or no vote on the casino, there will be endless events marking the Civil War's anniversary here in Pennsylvania and throughout the region - starting Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda with the governor. Want to get fired up about Pennsylvania's 19th century history? The state has developed a fascinating fact and story-filled interactive website to peruse here.




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