Friday, November 27, 2009

News---Gambling's Second Assault on GNMP, Park Donor Likes Slots

Potential Casino Site Near Borough, Scot Andrew Pitzer, Gettysburg Times, November 26, 2009.

There is new life in efforts to bring a gaming facility to Adams County, and a Gettysburg businessman is believed to be a part of the talks. The Harrisburg Patriot News reported Wednesday that an unidentified investment group has expressed interest in obtaining a Category III resort casino license in Cumberland Township. Legislative insiders say the project could potentially include table games, although there is no law authorizing those games now.

A spokesman for David LeVan, the Battlefield Harley Davidson owner who tried unsuccessfully in 2006 to obtain a gaming license for Adams County, said that “it’s no surprise” that the philanthropist would be involved in the discussions. LeVan announced in the summer of 2008 that he would seek another license, if an opportunity presented itself. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to hear Dave’s name or Adams County mentioned during the ongoing debate in Harrisburg over gaming-related issues,” said spokesman David LaTorre. “Dave is considering a number of economic development opportunities in Adams County that will create jobs, and opportunities for Adams County residents.”

The last time a gaming facility was proposed in Adams County, Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa in Straban Township, it was rejected because of opposition, and it’s proximity to the 6,000 acre Civil War battlefield. This time, the potential site is an existing hotel in Cumberland Township — the 307 room Eisenhower Inn and Conference Center — located along the Emmitsburg Road, just south of Gettysburg. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach confirmed that no applications have been submitted for a Category III license in Adams County, and that “none could be accepted unless the board decides to re-open the application period.” There is one available Category III license, which permits as many as 500 slot machines at an existing resort and recreational complex.

The hotel is owned by the estate of developer Richard D. Michael, and the estate’s executor, Larry Musselman, told the Patriot News that a potential buyer has secured an option on the property. Musselman would not name the group, citing confidentiality issues.

Pennsylvania Senator Richard Alloway, whose district includes Gettysburg, said Wednesday that he’s “heard there is some interest over there to bring some gaming into Adams County...although there are some people involved from out of town as well.” The first-term senator hasn’t ruled out supporting a casino, as long as it doesn’t “detract from our number one asset in Adams County, the battlefield.” “It’s our economic driver. We get three million visitors every year here to spend their money and see our beautiful land,” said Alloway.

The Eisenhower Inn and Conference Center is about five miles from downtown Gettysburg, in an area that is zoned for “mixed-use development,” located outside of Gettysburg National Military Park boundaries. Previously, a water park was proposed near the same site. Alloway vowed to consider any proposal “with an open mind.” “We need jobs, so people can pay their bills. We need tax dollars. We need to revive our economy,” said Alloway. “We need to be careful, but at the same time, we have to be realistic as it comes to job and tax revenue.”Gettysburg area State Representative Dan Moul said he would support an Adams County casino, “depending on where it’s located.” “I’m sure you’re going to have a lot of people, just like they did several years ago...that will say they’re not comfortable with having gambling in this area,” said Moul.

He stressed that it’s “too early to be talking about table games, since we don’t even have a law that would put them into place.” He there are “a ton of issues that need to be considered, before the law is passed.” The current “bones of contention,” in Moul’s opinion, are a $5 million permit fee, and how the table revenues would be distributed. Moul believes the state could receive as much as 35 percent, but legislators are currently considering between 16-18 percent.

Under the latest proposal, table revenues would be disbursed to the four state-related schools, but Moul thinks the money — “in the tune of $600 million” — should be used for property tax relief instead. “It might not ever happen,” Moul said regarding table games. “If they do it right, I’m OK. If they do it wrong, I’m against it.”

Category III licenses are “slots only,” as are permits for Category I and II facilities. But Category III licenses are limited to a maximum of 500 machines, opposed to 5,000 machines for the first two licenses. License fees for Category III licenses are $5 million, and $50 million for larger facilities. There are restrictions over who can enter the gaming area of a Category III casino, according to state gaming law. Patrons must be registered overnight guests of the hotel, a customer at one of the facility’s attractions.

Text Source: Gettysburg Times, November 26 2009

Map Source: Heritage Markets

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