David LeVan Ends Pursuit of Gettysburg Casino License

Mason Dixon Downs - Gettysburg Racetrack and Slots Casino

Mason Dixon Downs would have housed harness racing and a slots casino.

David LeVan, a local businessman who has tried to bring a casino the Gettysburg area on several different occasions, said he was canceling his third attempt to secure a Gettysburg casino license. June 14 was the deadline to submit an application for Pennsylvania’s final casino and horse racing permit.

Mr. LeVan said the uncertainty regarding the latest set of prospective gambling laws out of Harrisburg was the reason for his hesitation. Currently, the State Senate and House of Representatives have two very different gambling bills on the table, which leave the future of Pennsylvania’s gambling indutry is significant doubt.

LeVan on Gettysburg Casino License Plans

Speaking about the need for a major job creatore in Adams County, LeVan said on Wednesday, “I continue to believe that a gaming project would be tremendous for the local Adams County economy, create thousands of jobs, and provide desperately needed funding for countless municipal and community projects.

MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Concerned by VLTs

David LeVan is not the only businessman leery of the current gambling bills in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Bethlehem Sands Casino Resort, the largest casino in the state, has grown concerned enough about the video lottery terminal provisions in the House Bill that it is running $1 million in ads against VLTs. Bethlehem Sands is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp, which is controlled by Sheldon Adelson, the wealthiest gaming executive in the world and in the Top 20 of all people on the planet.

MGM Resorts International had similar qualms. When Bethlehem Sands was shopped by LVS, MGM Resorts was in discussions to purchase the casino for $1.3 billion. Eventually, MGM Resorts pulled out of the deal and local media speculated it was the potential for VLT gambling in the state.

If the Pennsylvania House bill passed, taverns and bars in the state would have the option to obtain a Class II gambling license to host video lottery terminals. It would add at least 35,000 new gaming machines to the state in a variety of locations, including “internet, airports, bars, truck stops and elsewhere“. It would undercut the revenues for the casinos and racinos in Pennsylvania, which host about 27,000 slot machines.

Previous Attempts in 2005 and 2010

The two previous attempts by David LeVan to bring a casino to Adams County stirred up significant controversy. Many locals supported the plan, claiming it would bring jobs to a part of Pennsylvania which needed them. Other residents were dead-set against the plan, because it would encroach on hallowed national ground — Gettysburg National Military Park on the site of the Battle of Gettysburg.

While the casino would not be within visual range of the national monument (it is 3 miles away), many believe it would sully the local area, which is the site of so much American history. Not only did the three-day battle in July 1863 prove to be the pivotal event of the American Civil War, but later that year, the consecration of the cemetery for Union soldiers gave occasion for President Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. Generations of American children have memorized the address in school.

Harness-Racing Track and VLT Casino

Despite concerns, David LeVan announced in January 2017 that he was making a third attempt for Pennsylvania’s final casino license. To build a casino, LeVan also had to build a harness-racing track. His plan was to build Mason-Dixon Downs in the small community of Freedom Township off Route 15, which borders the Pennsylvania-Maryland line.

For the site to place the racino, David LeVan purchased 700 acres of land. While the zoning described the land as “mixed-use”, LeVan assured the development group he could get the proper zoning for the project. In announcing that he was giving up his third try, Levan thanked the Adams County Economic Development Corporation and the Gettysburg-Adams Chamber of Commerce for its support in the project.

LeVan: “Unquestioned Economic Benefits” of Casino

In his Wednesday press conference, David LeVan said in the “I regret not being able to help my hometown achieve the unquestioned economic benefits gaming would provide at a time when jobs are scarce.”