Following the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s postponement of the decision awarding the state’s remaining Category 3 gaming license, Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) president James Lighthizer issued the following statement:
“While I understand and commend the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their desire to carefully consider the myriad aspects and implications of the licensing process, I am dismayed that the thousands the thousands of Americans concerned about the potential denigration of the Gettysburg Battlefield will not yet receive closure. It is clear that no other proposal under consideration has generated the same intense level controversy and public outcry as this second attempt to bring casino gambling to Gettysburg.
“We are, however, pleased to note that in public remarks earlier this week, Governor Ed Rendell again reiterated his opposition to the idea that a casino might be built near the battlefield. Although he has no vote in the proceedings, the governor’s attitude clearly reflects that of countless sensible Americans.”
“The Civil War Preservation Trust and its allies will continue to monitor the situation closely. We remain confident that the Board will again take a stand protect the legacy and future of this most hallowed ground.”
Since it was announced last year, the proposal to open Mason-Dixon Gaming Resort a scant half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park has drawn immense opposition. Tens of thousands signed petitions against the project and nearly 300 prominent historians wrote to the gaming board, urging its rejection, as did the national leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the American Legion. Other prominent Americans who lent their name to the campaign to protect Gettysburg include Susan Eisenhower, Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha, renowned composer John Williams and entertainers Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang and Sam Waterston. In 2005, citing public outcry, the Gaming Board likewise rejected a plan to construct a casino one mile from the edge of the national park.
With 55,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States, permanently protecting more than 29,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. CWPT has permanently protected a total of 703 acres at Gettysburg, including two inholding parcels purchased in 2010 and since conveyed to the National Park Service.The organization’s website is www.civilwar.org.