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Casino Group Rolls Snake Eyes in Bid for Gettysburg Site

ByABC News
December 20, 2006, 2:03 PM

Dec. 20, 2006 — -- Civil war enthusiasts and historians breathed easier today after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to reject a gambling license for a proposed casino that would have been located less than 2 miles from the historic battlefield.

The board's decision apparently ends a bitter two-year fight that divided residents of the small town, the site of the battle that historians call the turning point of the Civil War.

The applicant for the license, Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa, responded to defeat in a written statement: "We fought the good fight. In the end, we are disappointed for our thousands of local supporters who looked forward to a project that would create 3,000 jobs and a year-round tourism industry."

Several local politicians and business owners wanted the casino. They argued that Gettysburg needed to diversify its economy, especially in bad-weather months when relatively few tourists come to see the battlefield.

Businessman Bill Synnamon also wanted to find a way to keep tourists in town after dark.

"You have to have the entertainment value," Synnamon said. "Gettysburg, after 9 o'clock, if you don't go have a beer, you're done. There's absolutely nothing in town for those people."

But backers of the casino apparently never anticipated the grassroots opposition to gambling. Last July the CEO of Crossroads Gaming, David LeVan, told ABC News: "I thought the positive economic benefits warranted taking it on. But I certainly regret how divisive this issue has become to the community."

After the gaming board's vote, Susan Star Paddock, a social worker who headed the citizens group that fought the casino, told ABC News she is "thrilled and very, very grateful."

Paddock and other casino opponents were in Harrisburg where the Gaming Control Board met. When the vote was announced, she said, they held up a banner saying "Thank you." Then they began the drive back to Gettysburg to hold a victory party.