Gettysburgtimes.com

Casino investor defends proposal

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 10:55 pm

In his first interview since Adams County casino plans surfaced last year, Mason Dixon Resort & Casino co-principal Joseph Lashinger was adamant Wednesday regarding his part in the ownership of the $75 million project.

“I want Dave LeVan to take it over completely,” said Lashinger, who approached LeVan, a Gettysburg businessman, last summer to partner with him in the Cumberland Township project.

Lashinger, a former Penn National Gaming executive, is the majority owner in the Eisenhower Inn project, with 76.48 percent, while LeVan has 17.52 percent net ownership. However, Lashinger intends to transfer his share to LeVan, if the project is awarded a license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board later this year, or in 2011.

“I wouldn’t have done this project if Dave LeVan would have said no to me,” continued Lashinger, 56, also a former Pennsylvania lawmaker. “He’s a guy that always seems to be doing the right thing. He has the same beliefs that I do in economic development, jobs and community involvement.”

“You can have a great project conceptually, but the local partner is what makes it happen,” said Lashinger.

Lashinger is no stranger to the Pennsylvania gaming industry. After serving as a state lawmaker for 14 years in Montgomery County near Philadelphia (1977-1990), Lashinger formed connections in the gaming industry.

His career began with Hollywood Casino, and later blossomed with Penn National Gaming in the 1990s, where he served as general counsel and vice president. Lashinger said he later served as founder and chief operator of the Chester Downs project in Delaware County, leading the $435 million project that transformed what he described as a derelict brownfield in Delaware County into what is now known as Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

“It was a project that many opponents said would never happen,” said Lashinger, adding that he “hopes to bring that track record” to the Gettysburg area, with the Mason Dixon proposal.

The project aims to transform the 307-room Eisenhower Hotel, south of Gettysburg, into a resort casino with 600 slot machines, and 50 table games. LeVan and Lashinger are seeking the state’s lone remaining Category Three “resort” casino license, and the state’s Gaming Control Board is holding a public hearing Aug. 31 at the Comfort Suites Hotel, in Cumberland Township, to weigh testimony.

Lashinger noted that the Eisenhower Inn, which he has an option to purchase with LeVan, is “one of the few hotels in the state that qualifies” for the gaming license, as hotels must exceed 275 rooms, and include resort amenities. No new structural construction is planned in the project.

The project is opposed by No Casino Gettysburg, historians and preservation organizations, mainly because of its half-mile proximity to the boundaries of Gettysburg Military Park.

“Five years from now, after we have the license and we’re operating, our opponents will say — wow, we were wrong,” said Lashinger. “We will compliment the tourism industry, and they will compliment us,” he added. “It’s happened everywhere else I’ve been.”

Lashinger explained that he “fully respects the opposition if they’re morally opposed to gaming, which is a large chunk in Gettysburg.” But he does not agree with arguments suggesting that the project will “change the culture” of the community.

“There is a casino in Philadelphia that is a lot closer to Independence Hall, the Constitution Center and Liberty Bell than we are to the battlefield. I’m just totally lost on that argument,” said Lashinger.

He disagreed with the “myth that casinos result in increased crime.

” Eight of the nine counties that are presently home to Pennsylvania casinos have reported no increase in crime since those facilities opened in the last five years. “The problem is that this industry has not done a good job in dispelling the myth,” said Lashinger. “The notion is just ridiculous about crime, along with prostitution,” he continued. “These stories are old, old Las Vegas and Atlantic City tales.” “There is no noticeable crime increase in communities that have casinos,” concluded Lashinger.

He described southern-Pennsylvania as the “largest untapped market in state gaming,” and stressed that Mason Dixon plans to “present that information” to the Gaming Control Board at upcoming hearings.

Lashinger said he’s known LeVan since his days with the State Legislature. LeVan previously served as CEO of Conrail in Philadelphia, and Lashinger worked on several transportation projects in that area. Although LeVan was unsuccessful in his first gaming venture — Crossroads Gaming Resort in Straban Township — Lashinger noted that “much has been learned” about the state gaming industry since then.

“In every community that I’ve been, these projects were welcomed and now compliment other existing assets in those areas,” said Lashinger. “I fully expect the same to happen here.”

Lashinger lives in south-Florida with his wife Julia. They have three children, ages 29, 27, and 11. He has lived in Florida for six years, although he lived in Pennsylvania his entire life before moving.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

9 comments:

  • AmazinGrace posted at 12:18 pm on Tue, Jul 27, 2010.

    AmazinGrace Posts: 142

    Lashinger + Levan + Conrail, yeah, that worked out REAL well...

     
  • History Addict posted at 9:38 am on Sun, Jul 25, 2010.

    History Addict Posts: 5

    Give me a break! The casino will be located in an existing structure which is NOT WITHIN THE NATIONAL PARK BOUNDARY. I vacationed in Gettysburg for 10 years and also lived one block off the square for 10 years. I have taken dozens of tours via Licensed Guides, Auto Tape, Self-Guided Walking Tours and Bus Tours through local touring companies and NOT ONCE did I or the group I was with end up anywhere near the Eisenhower Inn/Conference Center (where the casino will be located). And now, with the Visitor Center no longer accessible directly from the Emmitsburg Road, those against the casino don't even have to drive by it. There are at least four other exits from the highway that will bring a visitor into Gettysburg (York Road, Hanover Road, Baltimore Pike, Taneytown Road). If you don't like it then don't patronize it or even drive by it. The scare tactics and absolutely false information being touted by No Casino Gettysburg is deplorable.

    And as far as questioning Mr. Levan's philanthropy, do a little research. There are many charities that have benefited from his generosity. What about the revitalization of the downtown area with the renovated Majestic Theater. Do you really think that would have been possible without the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Levan and others? What have YOU done lately?

    To Mr. Levan: Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do. Although I no longer live in Gettysburg, I fully intend to continue vacationing in the area. I've never been to a casino before and if it comes to fruition, I may check it out. It'll be a welcome relief to have something to do in the evening when the local businesses are closed and the annoying and ridiculous Ghost Tours are being conducted.

     
  • Proud American posted at 8:45 am on Sun, Jul 25, 2010.

    Proud American Posts: 118

    This first position I wish to present is to all the locals’ who tell outsiders to remain “out of their business.” Both David LeVan and Joseph Lashinger are from the Philadelphia arena, are they not?, and now Lashinger lives in south-Florida with his wife Julia. That’s not very local to me. So that overturns and concludes the argument of local interest. So when locals’ cry outside fowl about outsiders in
    Gettysburg's affairs, where will Lashinger‘s proceeds from the profits from this casino be going, Florida? That’s not local economic growth.
    Stop for a moment and review this comment, it really is self explanatory. “Lashinger, a former Penn National Gaming executive, is the majority owner in the Eisenhower Inn project, with 76.48 percent, while LeVan has 17.52 percent net ownership. However, Lashinger intends to transfer his share to LeVan, if the project is awarded a license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board later this year, or in 2011.” “Mason Dixon Resort & Casino co-principal Joseph Lashinger was adamant Wednesday regarding his part in the ownership of the $75 million project.” Now do the math, Lashinger’s ownership @ 76.48 percent of $75 million = $57.36 million. LeVan’s ownership @ 17.52 percent of $75 million = $13.14 million. $57.36 million plus $13.14 million = $70.5 million or 94 percent ownership. There remains $4.5 million basically unaccounted for by the figures provided by Lashinger himself, if these numbers are accurate. So then where is the remaining 6 percent or $4.5 million coming from?
    Then too, does Lashinger have that kind of money, $57.36 million, readily on hand? Or are there a number of silent investors such as Hollywood Casino, Penn National Gaming, Chester Downs, or Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.
    Lashinger goes on to say “intends to transfer his share, (76.48 percent or $57.36 million to LeVan), if the project is awarded a license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.“ That is a boat load of free money, $57.36 million, handed over to David LeVan if you are to believe that. Or will LeVan be required to raise that money to buy Lashinger 76.48 percent share?
    And here’s another point of curiosity. Why is Joseph Lashinger, (a native Philadelphian now residing in Florida), a former state lawmaker for 14 years in Montgomery County near Philadelphia (1977-1990), and also highly involved with Hollywood Casino, Penn National Gaming, Chester Downs, and Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack involved in a $75 million, 307-room, 600 slot machines, and 50 table games project when he’s been associated with where he served as general counsel and vice president. Lashinger said he later served as founder and chief operator of the Chester Downs project in Delaware County, leading the $435 million project that transformed what he described as a derelict brownfield in Delaware County into what is now known as Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack. among others? Is his sole purpose to get involved in this $75 million venture only to hand his good friend who he’s quoted as saying, “he’s known LeVan since his days with the State Legislature,” since LeVan previously served as CEO of Conrail in Philadelphia, 76.48 percent of $75 million = $57.36 million as a gift or a nice gesture of this long time good friendship? Only to “I want Dave LeVan to take it over completely,” or is there another hidden agenda as he described southern-Pennsylvania as the “largest untapped market in state gaming,”? Does he have the Cumberland Township and Gettysburg best interest at heart? Nice to know someone living in southern Florida has this regions economic best interest always in his mind. All this sparks my curiosity.
    Also, to make quotable and unsubstantiated remarks such as,” Eight of the nine counties that are presently home to Pennsylvania casinos have reported no increase in crime since those facilities opened in the last five years. “The problem is that this industry has not done a good job in dispelling the myth,” said Lashinger. “The notion is just ridiculous about crime, along with prostitution,” he continued. “These stories are old, old Las Vegas and Atlantic City tales.” “There is no noticeable crime increase in communities that have casinos,” “In every community that I’ve been, these projects were welcomed and now compliment other existing assets in those areas,” said Lashinger. “I fully expect the same to happen here.” Is only hyperbole as with the comment “Five years from now, after we have the license and we’re operating, our opponents will say — wow, we were wrong,” said Lashinger. “We will compliment the tourism industry, and they will compliment us,” he added. “It’s happened everywhere else I’ve been.” As far as crime goes, History Channel just presented a special on gangland warfare over narcotics in Atlantic City. Maybe this may never come to fruition in Gettysburg, but then again it may.
    I guess I’m either naïve or dumb to not know these answers.

     
  • lee roberts posted at 7:16 pm on Sat, Jul 24, 2010.

    lee roberts Posts: 13

    This entire venture began in secrecy, lies, and obfuscations. It is in their interests to continue the same path until they achieve their goals Why should we allow that kind of enterprise to set up in our most beloved area? Starting with lies, it can only continue to go downhill, if we allow it. What power do we have over it?

    OUR POWER IS NOW, TO STOP IT. Later, regretfully, we can only weep for how we could have saved Gettysburg, when we didn't. We can murmur "no." Not here, not now. Or, we can shout "NO! NEVER!" like we really mean it. Say it LOUDER and even STRONGER.

    Our founders risked their very lives (and those of their families and loss of their property) for what they believed. No one is asking for your actual life here. What is being asked is to protect, value, and maintain our freedom to live with respect, morals, and dignity from those who would seek to trivialize our culture with their greed and the god of money. It is the least we can do.

    NO CASINO GETTYSBURG!

    Start now, take just a few minutes to write a letter opposing this venture, and present it, or have another person present it at the August meeting. Don't be intimidated by anyone. Your voices are precious to the cause. Lots of great things have happened with just one, or a few, tiny little voices saying, "Wait just a minute, I have something to say about this." Then say it, mean it, and stand up for us. These are OUTSIDERS coming in to USE and ABUSE us at every opportunity to line their own pockets. There is nothing here for the true good of us. Perhaps they are trying to set a precedent, which they would try to use to further establish casinos over this great country, at additional National Parks. But remember, Gettysburg is a National MILITARY Park. Even more special, for "what they did here." Help to stop them, now.

    If Mr. LeVan is so philanthropic, he could best be remembered for stopping this travesty and doing something truly beneficial for the area. Philanthropy is not lining your own pockets. Philanthropy is giving, without a benefit, in return. Not a get rich even quicker scheme at the expense of others. What a joke. Let me build a casino, which operates vice activities, so that I can be a philanthropist? Dirty money? True philanthropists are anonymous. If this happens, his name will become synonymous with curse words, much like traitors always are. How's that for a legacy?

    Hey! Let's all write in to the Times and suggest something else

    "FOR DAVE TO DO."

    If he wants to "help" and "be loved" and a "philanthropist," we can certainly come up with wishes for our community. We have a fabulous seminary and college. How about founding a School of Veterinary Sciences? These schools are few and far in between, with long waiting lists. It is more difficult to enter veterinary school than medical school. What a job maker that would be! Popular too! It could coincide with the agricultural aspects of our area, and promote them as well. Are we still the Apple Capital? How about establishing something that would actually help teach true American History, and not the dumbed-down stuff taught today, if it is even taught at all? How about something great for the elderly - not another "warehouse." I believe that the Brethren Home has a long waiting list, and has innovative arrangements. Some kind of facility in that vein would have LOTS of jobs at all levels. A terrific facility like that would draw from all around. How about donating to the fledgling Adams County EMS/Paramedic Facility? How about a Fire Academy?

    Hey, everyone, let's help Dave out here, with some great ideas to spread his wealth around, so he can end up with a good name, and lots of thanks - BUT NO CASINO!

     
  • Love Gettysburg posted at 7:56 am on Fri, Jul 23, 2010.

    Love Gettysburg Posts: 25

    So Lashinger has known LeVan since Conrail? And been planning casinos that long?

     
  • Love Gettysburg posted at 7:55 am on Fri, Jul 23, 2010.

    Love Gettysburg Posts: 25

    This report mentions the split in the Limited liability contract (no decisons) but not in the decision-making organization Mason Dixon GP. That is 98% Lashinger, 2% LeVan.
    See http://www.eveningsun.com/localnews/ci_15535476 for an explanation of why Lashinger alone negotiated with the Eisenhower and Lashinger alone signed the Memorandum of Understanding. If LeVan is going to own this why not show us the contract? And why didn't your reporter ask that?

     
  • NYFighting69th posted at 3:49 pm on Thu, Jul 22, 2010.

    NYFighting69th Posts: 1

    I recently visited Gettysburg for the annual meeting of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, and found to my utter disgust that the casino monster has re- surfaced, in a manner akin to Glenn Close's character rising up out of the bathtub after Michael Douglas thought he had drowned her in "Fatal Attraction." [censored]

    In reading today's article, I note that Joseph Lashinger, the majority partner of the proposed casino, is an absentee who has never lived in Gettysburg. So much for the snarky insults I read in the Gettysburg Times a few weeks ago, hurled by casino advocates at "outsiders" like me, who "come to Gettysburg and tell the locals how to run their lives!"

    I also noted with ironic amusement and dismay the numerous pro-casino signs on the lawns of the mom-and-pop motels in the vicinity of the Eisenhower resort. Do those folks really think that they're going to see an uptick in business from the casino? Here's a news flash for those folks: The buses and cars of crowd will clog the road with traffic, they will spend their money at the casino, they will eat at the casino, and they will get in their cars or tour buses and go home. As Daniel Day-Lewis says in "There Will Be Blood," the casino will "drink the milkshakes" of the mom-and-pop motels, because the only thing the surrounding motel owners are going to see is increased traffic, which will drive tourists away from their establishments.

    As for an influx of new jobs, forget about it. Any uptick will be temporary. And right now, there's a big surplus of experienced casino employees in the Northeast. It was just reported in today's newspapers that the casinos in Atlantic City have shed some 12,000 employees as the industry has fallen on hard times. Far from revitalizing Atlantic City, the casinos have done nothing to pump money into the local economy, improve the blight outside of the casino enclaves, or arrest the city's continuing population decline, crime problem or poverty. In the words of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, "Atlantic City is dying." So much for Lashinger's dismissal of such news as "old, old Las Vegas and Atlantic City tales."

    As for Lashinger's characterization of David LeVan as a "man who always does the right thing:" 1.) Try telling that to the thousands of railroad workers who lost their jobs when LeVan ran Conrail's price up (lining his own pockets in the process) and saddling CSX and Norfolk Southern with so much debt that they had to shed thousands of good-paying jobs in order to turn a profit (come to think of it, some of the applicants for casino jobs might even be the very same railroaders that got laid off). 2.) "Battlefield Harley-Davidson," and Gettysburg Bike Week. I have nothing against motorcycles or those who ride them. That said, while I was in Gettysburg, I also noted that residents are increasingly upset about the noise generated by increased traffic. Never having experienced Bike Week in Gettysburg, I can only imagine the joy that hundreds of loud motorcycles brings to town.

    As for Lashinger's "desire" to shed his stake in the casino and turn it over to LeVan--It's probably what was intended all along, because LeVan seems to be the type of person who will not stop until he gets what he wants. And, if God forbid, the casino gets approved, you can bet that "600 slots" is only the camel's nose under the tent. Don't forget that the original casino proposal called for 5,000 slots.

    As Lashinger says, David LeVan may indeed "always be doing the right thing"--for David LeVan.

    Residents of Gettysburg--PLEASE! WAKE UP BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

     
  • AmazinGrace posted at 1:02 pm on Thu, Jul 22, 2010.

    AmazinGrace Posts: 142

    Why is no one asking this guy about his relationship with a big casino running corporation, the Innovation Group, with tentacles in a lot of states, (including out in Nevada) and several countries? Inquiring minds want to know. They have their own food and beverage services. Methinks this does not pass the sniff test. Can you say Potemkin Village, anyone?

     
  • been here awhile posted at 12:30 pm on Thu, Jul 22, 2010.

    been here awhile Posts: 51

    Ah the man doth exist. And guess what--he has never been a resident of Adams County. So much for involving "local" folks. All he knows about Gettysburg is that the tourist base will bring him much money which he stated himself.

    So what you say? He actually said he needed a pawn to do his dirty local work. Or so he says. Dave Levan has been painted in a prior post story as a "life long resident of Gettysburg".

    Being born here, leaving the area while still in high school, coming back to attend Gettysburg College, leaving again and then coming back 10 years ago is hardly life long. Just another smoke screen by the pros. Again you say "so what?" This situation is not even close to what the pros have been saying all along about this mess being all local folks and hires.

    None of it matters though. Boroughvent is saying today that they are no longer going after the No Casino group. They will now focus on comparing "OUR" resort to the other applicants. Good luck.

    One amusing point they plan to push is having the tourist base that visit Gettysburg come to their casino. I thought their platform was not to bother the tourists--only the locals and anyone else driving on Rt. 15. Maybe I missed something in Lashingers story.

     
default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard