New poll finds that two-thirds of Pennsylvanians oppose plans for a casino just one-half mile from America's most famous battleground
GETTYSBURG, Pa., April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the eve of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War, a public opinion poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research reveals that Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly oppose plans for a casino 1/2 mile from the historic Gettysburg Battlefield. According to the poll, fully two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters actively oppose the idea of a casino at Gettysburg and nearly 60 percent favor pending legislation that would block future attempts at similar proposals. Further, 57 percent state that, if approved, such a Gettysburg casino would be an embarrassment to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The poll illustrates that resistance to a Gettysburg casino is strong in all regions of the state, although most pronounced in Central and Western Pennsylvania, where nearly 74 percent of all voters expressed opposition. Statewide, just 17 percent of Pennsylvanians indicated they support the idea.
Contrary to the claims of casino proponents, a separate, specific sampling of Adams County voters illustrates that the community is deeply divided on the issue, with 45 percent opposing the casino and only 41 percent supporting it. Opposition, however, is based on proximity to the battlefield rather than hostility toward gaming; were the chosen location further from the battlefield and national park, stated opposition falls to 35 percent of county voters.
Investors with Mason-Dixon Gaming, a company unrelated to the nationally recognized polling firm, are seeking a license on April 14, 2011 from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to operate a Category 3 resort casino. If approved, their project would bring hundreds of slot machines and table games just 1/2 mile from the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park.
Since it was announced last year, the proposal has drawn immense opposition. Tens of thousands of Americans 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.
Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks County), a member of the Pennsylvania Gaming Oversight Committee, last month introduced House Bill 1179, which would amend the state's Gaming Act to create a 10-mile buffer around Gettysburg national Military Park. Upon introduction, the legislation had gathered 23 bipartisan cosponsors from districts across the state. According to the poll, 59 percent of Pennsylvanians and 64 percent of central Pennsylvania voters expressed support for the bill.
The independent poll was commissioned by the Civil War Trust, an historic land preservation group, which also opposed a similar, unsuccessful proposal to bring gambling to Gettysburg in 2006. Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, well known as one of the most credible and accurate independent polling firms in the nation, conducted the poll from April 4–6, 2011. For the statewide sampling, a total of 625 registered voters were interviewed by telephone, with an additional sample of 400 registered voters in Adams County. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points on statewide questions and +/- 5 percentage points for Adams County.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including 800 acres at Gettysburg. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.
SOURCE Civil War Trust