You won't soon hear the ringing of payoff bells on one-armed bandits near Gettysburg National Military Park, as Pennsylvania gaming officials today refused to issue the necessary permits for its location next to the park.
Instead the Gaming Control Board gave the one permit it had to issue to a resort in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania.
"We would like to commend the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their decision to deny the application for a license to open a casino within one-half mile from Gettysburg National Military Park. The denial of this application represents the board’s commitment to protecting one of our nation’s most sacred places," said Cinda Waldbuesser, the Pennsylvania senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.
“The board’s decision shows that the public outcry by concerned Pennsylvania citizens was heard loud and clear. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, thankfully, the board considered the damaging effects that the proposed casino would have on the historic charm of this national icon and the community," she added. "After months of debate, the Board also agrees that a casino is at odds with the family friendly atmosphere of Gettysburg and with the sacred land on which so many gave their lives for our country."
Also applauding the decision was the Civil War Trust, which also said the hallowed ground of Gettysburg was not the proper place for a casino. The proposed casino, in addition to proposed for an area within one-half-mile of the military park's border, would have been about 2 miles from its main entrance.
"By stating that the hallowed ground of America’s most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise, (the Gaming Board has) reiterated the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to its priceless history and upheld its obligation to protect such sites from wanton and unnecessary degradation," said Jim Lighthizer, president of the trust. “This is a great day, not just for Gettysburg, but for all historic sites.
However, we must remember that this proposal was just a symptom of a larger problem — the numerous irreplaceable sites similarly besieged by ill-considered development," added Mr. Lighthizer. "I am confident that those seeking to protect priceless treasures of our past will be empowered by this victory for historic preservation, and I hope that its spirit will be carried forth in other communities facing similar questions of encroachment."
Nearly 300 historians, including some Pulitzer Prize winners, opposed the casino. Among those who urged the Gaming Board to deny the request were Susan Eisenhower, Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough.