Proposed casino in Gettysburg pits neighbor against neighbor

    A casino proposal for a site near Gettysburg failed four years ago, and now the same developer is trying again.

    A civil war battlefield is once against pitting neighbor against neighbor.

    A casino proposal for a site near Gettysburg failed four years ago, and now the same developer is trying again.

    When developer David Levan applied for a state casino license in 2006, pro- and anti-casino activists locked horns. Anti-casino won. Now, in 2010, the nation’s economy is different, and recent polls indicate the pro-casino contingent is in the majority.

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    But it might not be enough. The issue is so hot that key entities are staying neutral – like the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation and three Adams County state legislators.

    The state Gaming Control Board is considering five locations for a single license. The founder of No Casino Gettysburg, Susan Starr Paddock, says other sites have more support.

    “Some of the other applicants have widespread support in all of those types of groups,” says Paddock. “So, even though there is a very vocal pro-casino group in Adams County, local organizations are not flocking to support a casino.”

    But Gettysburg small-business owner Tommy Gilbert says in the last four years the economy has tanked, and the tax base in Gettysburg has shrunk.

    “Only 45 percent of the property owners are paying the tax. The rest is tax-exempt,” says Gilbert. “The park service is totally tax-exempt, the seminary is tax-exempt, schools and churches. You can’t keep going like this and running a town on 45 percent income. We have to have to have something else. And if this would help bring in more revenue and tax relief, I think it would be great.”

    Anti-casino activists say the casino would chase away heritage tourism, hurting the county further.

    The state will issue only two resort casino licenses, enabling up to 50 gaming tables and 600 slot machines. The first was already given to a site in Valley Forge.

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