Civil War preservation group backs Gettysburg casino
By Evan Haning, August 17, 2010
Proponents of a project to convert Gettysburg's Eisenhower Conference Center into a gambling casino received new support from a surprising corner -- the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association.
The GBPA, which calls itself the nation's oldest Civil War preservation group, said on Monday the Mason Dixon Resort & Casino project would help the local economy.
"Preservation does not exist in a vacuum. Our local preservation work cannot thrive absent a local economy that helps induce and support it," writes Brendan Synnamon, GBPA president.
No Casino Gettysburg spokeswoman Susan Star Paddock strongly disagrees.
"The GBPA's reference to this debate as a 'local issue' is tragically out of step with the way most Americans view the Gettysburg battlefield."
The American Legion has joined local opponents of the project, calling the casino proposal "a national disgrace."
Casino supporters say the resort's location one-half mile from Gettysburg National Military Park presents no threat to the historical significance of the field where 172,000 Union and Confederate troops fought and nearly 8,000 died.
But American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill sees it differently.
"The battlefield actually encompassed a greater area than is currently designated as a military historical site. In order to show the proper respect, we believe that something as frivolous as a casino should be much more than a half a mile away," Hill said.
Pulitzer Prize winning historian James McPherson agrees that the GBPA is mistaken in saying its site is "well south of the battlefield."
"The proposed site of the casino lies athwart the advance of Union cavalry toward what became known as South Cavalry Field, which saw substantial fighting on the afternoon of July 3, 1863," McPherson explains. "This ground is as hallowed as any other part of the Gettysburg battlefield."
Local businesses are split on how the casino would affect their community.
Supporters point to the $221,124,306 in gaming revenues collected by Pennsylvania in 2009 and believe a casino would create new jobs and bring more visitors to the battlefield.
Opponents worry that restaurant jobs will be lost and that the gambling resort will lure bed and breakfast customers away from town. They also say that the promise of local revenue increases from gambling often fails to appear. As for drawing new visitors to the battlefield, that apparently did not happen when casinos came to Vicksburg. The National Park Service reports visitation has remained static.
(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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Toatally agree with you Hank. "We" (meaning non-Gettysburg residents) have no right to dictate that they live as a 19th-century town forever.
What really galls me is that many of the anti-casino authors/historians/bloggers who are now so high and mighty attended book shows at Eisenhower to hawk their books or hold seminars. Evidently the ground has become much more sacred now that they don't have a financial interest.
Last edited on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 07:25 pm by javal1
I don't quite get the opposition, either. Not that I necessarily want a casino in Gettysburg, but the Eisenhower is a dump and let's face it, there's a fraggin' McDonald's right smack in the middle of the field of the third day's fighting. Commercialism is in Gettysburg to stay.
The decesion is certainly up to the locals. I personally do not approve of casinos, but will acknowledge that they would produce some local employment and tax revenue. I am concerned from a public safety stand point as the Eisenhower complex is out of town how will police and fire responses to the boro be affected. There are studies that show that casino type operations require more response by EMT and police than other venues. This is because of the combination of alcohol, excitement and other factors. The age demographics of casinos also are skewed toward older persons due to age restrictions which keep kids out. So the odds of aid for heart attack, stroke, or diabeties for that type venu is higher than say a water park.
The locals can require the operators to suppliment the funding of services to compensate for the added need. If they make it a part of the requirements for licensing. We as outsiders have no control over that. My wife and I are only in jepordy when we go to Gettysburg. The locals are victims of longer police and fire responses every day of their life. So they will reap the bounty or pay the price.
The way fire, EMS, and other life/safety issues are addressed re the casio and the bourough seem to me to continue to be local situations. That is the problem of the casino and the locals.
My concern is that the locals understand that casinos are not the panacea they are often thought to be. Many of the higher paid workers of every casino I have ever visited, have NOT been locals who got a job, but rather were folks from somewhere else. The locals seem to be the ones who are wait staff, maids, etc.. Remember casinos are in it for themselves, and only themselves!