Adams County businessman David LeVan hopes luck will be on his side this time when trying to put a casino near Gettysburg.

Right now there are 12 casinos in Pennsylvania. If LeVan has anything to say about it, that number will become 13 in a few years. In January, LeVan applied for the only available casino license in the state. That license would allow gambling along with harness racing.

The name of the proposed casino is Mason-Dixon Downs. It will, assuming permits are secured, operate in Freedom Township. In a letter drafted by LeVan’s legal counsel, he said the casino and racetrack will boost the local economy.

“Mason-Dixon Downs will deliver unprecedented opportunities for Freedom Township, surrounding communities, Adams County, local business, and most importantly, residents through hundreds of jobs,” said in a copy of the letter posted on EveningSun.com. “Host communities have received tens of millions of dollars in gaming funds for important projects and enhancements.”

What’s ahead for Mason-Dixon Downs

To build the casino and racetrack, LeVan will have to draft a land development plan. It will have to appease the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Should LeVan be successful with both organizations, he’ll have licensure as a designated harness-racing facility and a Category 1 casino.

However, LeVan faces strong opposition from Freedom Township residents.

Local residents don’t want a racino

LeVan has tried to win approval for a license twice in the past 12 years. Both times he failed, and both times he proposed sites near Gettysburg.

One of the factors impeding his progress is the opinions of locals, who are, in many cases, fiercely protective of the tranquil environs in and around Gettysburg. The most vocal opponents are part of No Gettysburg Casino, an initiative focused on keeping casinos out of the area.

No Casino Gettysburg Chairperson Susan Paddock called Mason-Dixon Downs a “failing proposition” in an interview with a local Fox affiliate.

“The nation is infuriated at the idea of taking this hallowed ground and putting a casino anywhere near it,” Paddock said. “It’s a failing proposition because there simply aren’t enough people here to make a casino work.”

The No Casino Gettysburg contingent was also outspoken in 2011 when the PGCB decided not to grant LeVan a license for a Gettysburg-area casino.

Penn Live wrote that opponents in attendance the day of the PGCB’s ruling let loose with “shouts, cheers and ovation” when the decision was announced.

Has PA gaming industry already his saturation point?

In addition to the concerns above, there is also the possibility that the state simply doesn’t need more casinos. Gaming revenue in PA has been down year-over-year in recent months.

And while a new casino could be additive in revenue, it might also cannibalize existing revenue.

The state legislature is considering a wide range of possible gaming expansions, including legislation that would authorize PA online casinos.

J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren is a freelance writer and author. He is a three-time winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest. His work has appeared in numerous blogs and publications including Bespoke Post, Snooth, Our Amazing Norway, Barcelona Metropolitan and The Villages Daily Sun.