Gettysburg Casino Again?

Area legislators say they’ll consider a new Adams County slots proposal with an open mind, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the community’s top draw: the 6,000-acre Gettysburg Battlefield.

“I know Dave LeVan, and know that any proposal that he’s behind will be a class-act project,” said Pa. Senator Richard Alloway, whose district includes Gettysburg.

The Battlefield Harley Davidson owner and a group of unidentified investors are seeking a Category III resorts slots license, and are targeting the 307-room Eisenhower Inn and Conference Center along Emmitsburg Road in Cumberland Township.

Table games are under consideration, although the State Legislature has not passed a law permitting those games in Pennsylvania casinos.

The Gaming Control Board rejected a LeVan-backed project in 2006, Crossroads Gaming Resort, because of its proximity to the battlefield at the intersection of Routes 15 and 30 in Straban Township, and the opposition that it generated.

Now, Levan’s new project is proposed for land near the Maryland border that is already home to a commercial recreation and overnight complex.

“I know that’s an attractive property, so if there is a project, I would want to make sure that it’s done right,” said Alloway, adding that the battlefield is the “number one asset in Adams County, and it’s the reason we get three million people here every year.”

“We cannot damage the battlefield, because it’s our national treasure,” said Alloway. “It’s what we’re known for throughout the world. We have to look at this carefully, because we don’t want to damage its reputation. We don’t want this to look like Atlantic City or Las Vegas…with flashing signs saying come here to gamble.”

Similarly, State Rep. Dan Moul (R-Gettysburg) said if Levan’s proposal moves forward, he would want to see a “project that blends in with the area.”

“If someone built (a casino) in an historic part of the state like Gettysburg – not that I want one here – but it should be historic looking,” said Moul. “If it’s near a ski resort, it should look like a ski resort. I’m not big on all the flashing lights. That’s OK for Atlantic City, but not Gettysburg.”

LeVan’s business group has secured an option to buy the property, and it will now try to secure a Category III gaming license.

Category III licenses restrict the size of a facility (no more than 500 machines) and patronage is limited to hotel guests, or pass-holders.

Gaming Control Board spokesperson Doug Harbach acknowledged that one such license is available, but said the board would have to reopen the application process. LeVan’s group did not meet the July application deadline.

If any further Category III projects are considered, Alloway hopes the board “does it the right way, and opens it up to everybody.” The board is currently mulling a project dubbed the “Reading Crowne Plaza” for the final license.

“It wouldn’t be fair if they awarded it to a particular group or person, because of an inside connection,” said the first-year Republican legislator. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it the right way.”

The land is zoned for mixed-use commercial development, so any proposal would have to go through the township’s zoning board for approval. No plans have been submitted.

If you’re on Facebook, please join the group that’s named No Casino Gettysburg (I think there’s one on Twitter, too). I don’t exactly know much about what’s going on right now, but I’ll try and find more information when I have time.

This garbage needs to be stopped for the second time. There should be no casino demeaning the Gettysburg battlefield. This article doesn’t mention it, but the proposed site is one HALF-MILE from the park boundaries. A HALF-MILE from the battlefield, and they want to put a freaking casino up.

Disgraceful, disgraceful, disgraceful.

Thanks, Lujack, for bringing this to our attention. I will be going out to the Facebook site.

This is an editorial from the Gettysburg Times about the different ways that a casino might be built; its worth reading because it explains situation well.

I’ve heard from a lot of people over the last couple of days, asking whether Dave LeVan’s latest Adams County gaming proposal has a chance.

If recent developments are any indication, the odds are increasing with every passing day.

Even though no slots licenses are available from the state, there are plenty of scenarios that could make them available — in a hurry.

1 — Pennsylvania lawmakers are discussing table game regulations, and could create up to three new “Category III” slots licenses, as a result of those discussions.

Those licenses would be in addition to the two permits that were already created for Category III gaming projects.

LeVan would face competition for a license, as groups from Valley Force and Nemacolin have already expressed interest, according to published reports.

Category III licenses are awarded to an existing hotel resort, and limit the number of slot machines to 500.

Previously, LeVan sought a Category II slots license (5000 slot machines), but his proposal was denied by the Pa. Gaming Control Board in 2006.

LeVan has not applied for another license, although he is likely to do so if one becomes available. Table games are a part of the state’s 2009-2010 budget, so lawmakers are rushing to create regulations.

Rules could be in place by the end of the year, and new licenses may be made available shortly thereafter.

LeVan would undoubtedly be a front-runner.

2 — Back in 2004, the state authorized two Category III gaming licenses for resort casinos.

Five years later, no such facilities have opened in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, primarily because of the country’s economic downturn.

One license has been awarded, and two developers have applied for the remaining license.

LeVan is not one of the applicants, as he did not meet a recent July 2009 application deadline.

Regardless, the Battlefield Harley Davidson owner has vowed that if he’s awarded a license, he could quickly put the pieces in place to open a facility.

He has already secured an option to purchase the 307-room Eisenhower Inn in Cumberland Township, and convert the property into a casino resort. LeVan has said he’ll move forward with purchasing that property — if he obtains a license.

Right now, there are no licenses available, so state gaming regulators would have to reopen the application process to consider LeVan’s plan.

State Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach said that two projects are under consideration for the remaining license: The Fernwood Resort & the Crowne Reading Plaza). There is no timetable for a decision.

The board reopened the application process in April 2009, and received one application (The Crowne Reading Plaza) by the July deadline. But that was before the state’s 2009-2010 budget was passed. And that budget includes table games.

With the ongoing table game discussion, there is a renewed interest in Category III slots licenses. In fact, one of the projects that dropped out of the running in 2005 (proposed by a group from Nemacolin, Pa.) is resurfacing.

The gaming board may decide to reopen the application process, with the burgeoning interest.

If that occurs, Dave LeVan gets another opportunity.

3 — One of the Category III projects that has already been awarded a license — Valley Forge Convention Center — is under ongoing litigation.

The project is unable to move forward, because the lawsuit is blocking its progress.

According to Harbach, the Gaming Board awarded the license in April 2009, but the developer has not proceeded with construction.

A lawsuit was filed with the State Supreme Court challenging the license. There has been no decision to date by the court.

If the gaming board’s ruling is overturned, that would make another Category III slots license available to interested developers, and the state could reopen the application process.

LeVan would certainly be in the mix.

4 — The Pa. Gaming Control Board is considering applications submitted by the Fernwood Resort in the Poconos and the Crowne Reading Plaza, for the remaining license.

The Fernwood project is proposed by The Bushkill Group Inc. However, the group’s application has been put on hold, because its financing has been deemed insufficient.

Harbach explained that the Fernwood project “needs to bring a solid financial package to the board” for further consideration.

The Bushkill Group applied for the Category III license in 2007, when it was one of four bids seeking a Category III slots license: The Valley Forge Convention Center, the Palace Inn near Pittsburgh, and the Split Rock resort in the Poconos. Subsequently, two developers dropped out: Split Rock and Palace Inn.

The board awarded one license to the Valley Forge Convention Center, and that project remains under litigation.

Since one license remained, the Gaming Control Board reopened the application period for a third time in April 2009 for a 90-day period. It received one application: The Reading Crowne Plaza.

Previously, in 2005, when the board first opened the bidding process, the panel received two applications: the Nemacolin Resort and Seven Springs Resort. Both dropped out, but investors from Nemacolin are reportedly interested again.

State gaming regulators could award the license to the Fernwood or Crowne Reading Plaza project — or neither.

If the latter occurs, LeVan’s proposal could move forward, because the second license would remain available.

There are opportunities abound.

Still, for LeVan to get another crack at obtaining a slots license, it will take a little bit of luck.

But the odds look to be in favor of one of those four scenarios occurring.

Thanks, Lujack for letting us know. All these people want to do is get to these tourist and line their own greedy pockets. Pretty disgraceful.

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