National Coalition for History

Board Says No to Casino on Hallowed Ground

Lee White, May 2011

On April 14, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected a proposal to bring casino gambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park.

Since it was announced last year, the proposal to open the Mason-Dixon Gaming Resort a scant half-mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park has drawn immense opposition—an early April survey by a nationally renowned polling and research firm found that only 17 percent of Pennsylvanians supported the idea, with 66 percent actively opposed and 57 percent indicating that such a facility would be "an embarrassment" to the Commonwealth.

Last year nearly 300 American historians sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in opposition to a proposal to license the casino. Reinforcing that letter signed by individuals, the American Historical Association, the National Coalition for History, the National Council on Public History, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for Military History and the Southern Historical Association sent a separate letter to the Gaming Board, expressing their opposition to the proposal.

Tens of thousands of petitions were also submitted against the project and it was opposed by 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 had rejected a similar plan to construct a casino one mile from the edge of the national park.

Lee White is the executive director of the National Coalition for History. He can be reached at lwhite@historycoalition.org.