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Penn National would run proposed Gettysburg casino and resort

April 13, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Penn National Gaming would develop and manage the resort and gaming operations of a casino-hotel proposed between Gettysburg and the Mason-Dixon Line, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

Gettysburg native David LeVan and former Penn National Gaming vice president Joseph A. Lashinger Jr. have been working to develop Mason-Dixon Resort & Casino at the existing Eisenhower Hotel & Conference Center on Emmitsburg Road. On Tuesday, they issued a news release announcing Penn National committed the funding for the $75 million project's development, construction and opening.

Spokesman David La Torre said Mason-Dixon Resorts LP submitted an application April 7 for a Category 3 Resort License from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The Category 3 license authorizes an established hotel resort to operate up to 600 slot machines and up to 50 table games, according to the gaming board's Web site.

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Mason-Dixon Resort & Casino's partners have proposed 300 hotel rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. They plan to operate the maximum number of slot machines and table games if approved, according to the news release.

Penn National Gaming owns and operates 19 gaming operations, including Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pa., and Charles Town Races & Slots in Jefferson County, W.Va.

Charles Town is on the cusp of expanding its offerings to include table games at its sprawling Jefferson County location. A press conference is planned Wednesday at Charles Town to announce a name change and other additions to the facility, including a new entertainment venue.

"We believe the location of this (proposed) facility can drive additional daytime and overnight tourism in the area and help stimulate the local economy," Penn National Gaming Senior Vice President of Regional Operations John V. Finamore said in the news release.

The resort and casino would save 100 jobs at the financially struggling Eisenhower convention center and create hundreds more through the expansion, La Torre said.

Mason-Dixon Resort & Casino would give tourists evening activities and capitalize on the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., metro market, La Torre said.

"It allows Pennsylvania to put a casino virtually on the border of Maryland and tap into a new audience," La Torre said, calling it "the perfect project."

The developers already formed a partnership with Gettysburg Tours to offer shuttle services for guests. Additional agreements are being forged with Ski Liberty and the Links at Gettysburg golf resort, according to La Torre.

The gaming board will make sections of the application available to the public. After that, it will hold public hearings and a sustainability hearing in the state capital before voting, La Torre said.

He said he did not know what the time frame would be for those things to happen.

David LeVan proposed a 3,000-slot machine facility east of Gettysburg in 2005 and failed. La Torre said that project would have been entirely new construction on green space, rather than re-purposing the existing convention center.

"We learned from those lessons," he said.

The casino issue has polarized many residents in the Adams County community and in Civil War history circles.

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