Casino Planned For Edge Of Lancaster Amish Country

Gaming conglomerate Penn National plans to build a casino in Morgantown, on the edge of Lancaster County’s Amish region.

This has spurred protests from local residents and religious leaders in the area. Edward Kurtz’s family used to own the land intended for the casino:

A decision, Edward Kurtz, 86, whose Mennonite grandparents once owned and tilled the now 36 vacant acres where Penn National plans to build, says is troubling.

“Right about where my grandparents’ house was they want to put a casino, so I’m upset and very sad for me and my community,” said Kurtz, a longtime resident, and former Mennonite Reverend.

Kurtz along with many community members in the religiously conservative area are opposed to the development. Red and white signs line many yards, and read, “Don’t gamble with our future,” residents’ polite way of saying “no” to a casino in their neighborhood.

An Amish “elder” (possibly the writer means a bishop or member of the ministry) unsurprisingly opposes it as well:

An Amish elder, who wished to keep his identity private said he “doesn’t see any good coming from a casino,” which he regards as inherently dishonest.

“It’s the opposite of what this community is built on, hard work and honesty,” he said.

The elder, who spent much of his 80-odd years working and living in the townships, fears that if a casino is built in town, many of his Amish brothers may relocate to more southern parts of the region.

This story recalls Amish objections to a proposed casino in western New York. Amish there felt a casino would threaten their community in part due to increased traffic, as well as having similar moral objections.

The decision is the result of recent changes to PA law which have allowed 10 “satellite casinos” to be built. Municipalities were given the option to opt out of hosting one of these casinos.

Over 1,000 of the state’s 2,500 municipalities chose to opt out. Caernarvon Township did not opt out.

The casino’s supporters tout the economic benefits:

Despite overwhelming opposition and a standing-room-only crowd at last month’s public hearing with Penn National, township leaders argue the casino project is a major boost to the town’s tax base.

“The kind of stuff they were bringing up is crazy,” said Allen Styer III, the chairman of the Caernarvon Township Supervisors.

Styer says with the additional funding the township can finally add more emergency services, and fix roads in their community.

“Right now our entire budget is $2.6 million. The casino will contribute an additional $1.6 million. That’s more than half, that’s’ a huge benefit to the community,” said Styer.

Penn National states that the casino will bring 250 permanent jobs to the area plus 275 construction jobs. The business will be known as “Hollywood Casino Morgantown“.

An approval vote by the Gaming Control Board is expected in May. Here’s the video report:

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    1. Lois Lane

      Amish opposing Casino

      They will get what they deserve. After fighting for OUR property rights where Amish cut down 443 trees and did other damage and then GOT AWAY WITH IT, I feel this is KARMA for what they DO to the English. I used to Respect them but what I thought was a GREAT way of Life has turned into seeing them as Greedy and Arrogant when they want something. They don’t want anyone else to live their lives the way they choose. I am not a gambler but I feel they need to realize that they don’t run our country. They refuse to obey our Laws, why should we have to jump when they say to jump? What their RELIGION allows or does not allow are manipulated to allow them to do what they want and are not consistent amongst all Amish and can be changed in an instant if they want something that was previously NOT allowed. They manipulate and are Weasels when they break a Law and will ‘NOT PAY’ (Pro bono) a Lawyer to fight (Lie) so they are not held responsible for their actions!! No Respect for them anymore. Karma!!

      1. Anonymous

        Wow… You HEAR about hate-speech & rants… you don’t often get to see one. This is a very disturbing post. Did you seriously just imply that an entire and diverse culture are weasels? You clearly need help. They “refuse to obey our laws”? I live around the Amish & work with them. I do not see it that way at all. Your post is extremely offensive as well as disturbing.

        1. Lois J Lane

          Amish Weasels

          So YOU comment as an Anonymous person and accuse me of calling all Amish Weasels. The ones in our area certainly are!! And if YOU think about it and look at their lives with OPEN eyes, You may see how Different each Amish sects’ beliefs are and what Laws they will or will not follow. They are not consistent among their group called Amish.

          The ones in our area would live in Barns. To get a Barn Permit, there was NO CHARGE for a Building permit. Then they would turn it into a living facility AFTER the fact. They would get Ag building exemptions for the Barn and THEN get the STAR exemption for the dwelling. Some people say that they don’t pay PROPERTY TAXES for their houses because they are all their churches. I could go on how they Get Away with not paying Property Taxes!!

          They live on a CASH or Barter means and do not pay INCOME TAXES because their Income is not traceable.

          Their wives and children are basically their slaves and are controlled to NOT leave their religion/sect.

          Their religion does not allow them to Use Slow Moving Vehicle signs which is dangerous to both them and the normal public ways of transportation. They leave Manure on the roads which is a road hazard and certainly not sanitary!!

          Yes, they are hard working, family oriented, religious people but they have sneaky ways of GETTING away with ‘murder’ (meaning they find ways to NOT obey OUR laws pr pay the price like we do, which to me is being a weasel because they use their RELIGION to defend them). If WE have to obey the laws, why should they not have to obey them. Most of the things they get away with have NOTHING to do with Religion. SHOW me in the Bible where they should not obey the Laws that others have to obey!! If they would do that, then I could learn to respect them. The one thing you cannot say about them is that they are Law abiding people.

          1. Weaver

            Lois. You are a straight bigot spouting nonsense. You watch one too many fake reality shows and fake documentaries. I have rarely seen an Amish woman unhappy in their household. In fact, Amish women are the backbone of Amish communities. It is mostly Amish women who beside the bishops uphold Amish traditions. Amish women far from being slaves are active participants in being Amish. They are the ones who raise the children, organize, and socialize for the most part as Amish. They are not spaces. No one is. No one is forced to be Amish. This is the USA, it is 2019, in the heart of modern civilization. People have a choice to stay or to leave. Lol.

            Amish also pay income tax. How do I know? I have done taxes for the Amish. They also pay property taxes. Where are you getting this information? Really? Because I’m sure all the dying rural communities throughout America welcoming the Amish and waiting for the small businesses, taxes, etc. would disagree. I’m also certain that the Amish who pay for school taxes, but don’t even use the public school systems are not complaining about paying for other people’s children to have an education.

          2. Yoder in Ohio

            Okay… NOW I am offended. Seriously offended.

            First of all, many people here choose not to use a full name. Should someone choose a nickname of anonymous, that is perfectly acceptable.

            Of course the the Amish sects are all different!! I’m astounded anyone is expecting all Amish groups to be the same! Insisting on likeness across the board is ludicrous. Are all groups of Baptist alike? Jews? Methodists?

            I most certainly DO pay property taxes. We host church services at our home, but the idea of tax exempt status for this is ridiculous. A bit of research might have been a good idea on that before accepting what “some people say” as fact. I pay my property taxes like the law-abiding citizen I am and have always tried to be. I pay income taxes to the federal & state government.

            I love my wife & children dearly. I’m offended you suggest otherwise.

            Your comments are ignorant and uninformed, I am sorry to say.

            I was taught — and I firmly believe — that condemning an entire race, culture, religion, clan, region, or whatever you wish to use as an example, based on the action or actions of one or a few is unacceptable and wrong.

            Are there Amish people who have failed to live up to what they were taught and know is right? Sadly, yes. But may I ask you to name any group that has achieved perfection?

            Erik has a wonderful resource going here. Let’s not let it sink into a name-calling squabble and platform for bigotry and hatred.

            1. Thanks Yoder. I don’t invite bigoted or hateful comments here, and happily 99%+ of comments are not of that nature and get published no problem (comment filters generally catch things like foul language etc). But sometimes it can be better to leave certain comments up and let them be responded to.

              Generally I think people have limited negative individual experiences…and then let it develop into bigotry for a whole group of people. Applies to Amish just as it does other groups. I wouldn’t ever deny that there are bad apples (and I’d even say less exemplary communities) among the Amish…but putting that experience to be definitive of the Amish as a whole is wrong.

              Lois Lane I’m sorry to hear about your bad experiences. It sounds like you are really angry…and it seems you are taking that and combining it with hearsay and conjecture to create a portrait of all Amish as bad people.

              So you had a bad time with those in your area (Amish people are capable of acting in less than exemplary ways at times – like any people – so I’m not saying it’s not possible), but putting that on all Amish people, and with the language you are using, is ignorant and bigoted.

              Though they have common beliefs there are differences among people and groups within the Amish, and this shouldn’t be surprising in a group of over 300,000 people, nor are those differences mean they are hypocritical or spiritually inconsistent as is often the accusation. Read a book like The Amish or An Amish Paradox and I think it may be eye-opening especially since it sounds like you live around Amish and have regular contact with them.

              If you are the same Lois Lane who commented years ago, I know you had some bad experience with Amish cutting trees in your area then…I hope you can deal with that anger in some way. Venting anger is not really the purpose of this site.

              And if illegal actions occurred, do report them to authorities so they can be held accountable. If you did that, and they escaped repercussions somehow, I am really sorry to hear that. It sounds like you may have some bad-acting individuals in your area – I’d recommend trying to deal with that specific situation in a productive way, rather than going after the Amish as a whole on a website. I think that’s going to be better for everyone here. Be well Lois.

              1. Yoder in Ohio

                You said that very well, Erik. Thank you. I fully agree with your comments.

            2. Bren Elwess

              Thank you for sharing, Mr. Yoder. Clarification was necessary.

        2. Jeff Baker

          Control Issues

          It’s sad there are people that have Hate/Fear running their lives and in turn try to force that on other’s.

    2. Carla

      Opposing Casinos

      I firmly do not believe casinos are in the best interest of anyone.
      They lead people to do things by tempting them.
      This is nothing more than Satan expanding his web
      to tempt people into sin.

    3. Anonymous

      Well the Amish will have to move West, after all.
      Why did some Amish move to Ohio, Illinois, Indiana,Iowa, Wisconsin,
      Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska. North Dakota & South Dakota & so on

      Because, to live their lives, due to their Religion, which, there’s no proof.

      FYI, the Amish that did move to South Dakota, did their Initiatively study,
      Making sure that they’re not anywhere near the Native America Reservation Land

      Land Chances happens all the time, not necessary for the best or worst.

      However, if the Amish People move to the Dakotas,
      It’s, obviously there’s limited Conventions availability
      Including, English Taxi service. Horse & Buggy can only go so fair.

      Eric, please add to my point.

    4. Zombie

      Please excuse the Miner error.

      *Convenience, not Conventions*

    5. J W

      Amish or Non-Amish, casinos are bad.

      I live near one of these smaller casinos. This is what happened after it opened.

      The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Traffic has increased…even at 3 a.m.. Roads more congested. Thus increasing the need to do more expensive road repair.

      After a few years, the casino expanded and became a larger casino. A few years later, the casino expanded again. Now adding weekly shows, concerts, etc, year round. Again, traffic increases.

      Alcohol and drug use has increased in the area. Crime has increased. Including gamblers leaving with cash and being followed home.

      Since kids are not allowed inside the casino, gamblers have been caught leaving their young children locked inside the car in the parking lot while the gambler went inside,..sometimes for hours.

      Open space is bought and developed for hotels, businesses, more roads, etc..

      Basically, the area is louder and more congested. Becoming a “mini” city. In fact, neighbors have complained about the casino’s bright lights at night. The lights were shining into people home’s/bedrooms at night.
      People have to close their shades just to sleep.

      Quiet life does not exist anymore.

      Allen Styer III, the chairman of the Caernarvon Township Supervisors has displayed a disturbing lack of knowledge on the affect of a casino on the local community.

      He speaks about additional tax revenue but does not understand how more expensive the community will become with this type of development moving in.

      It’s not just a casino moving in. It’s what the casino will bring with it that will make things worse.

      I would encourage to Amish/Mennonite to move out of the area if the casino moves in.

      1. Karen

        Seneca Niagara Falls casino

        The town board should look at the casino run by the Senecas in Niagara Falls, NY. Great jobs were promised; most of the jobs are part time, minimum wage, no benefit jobs. The city of Niagara Falls, which has been in dire straits financially for years, had a contract with the Senecas that the city and the state would get millions over so many years; the city and state had to go to court to get the money. The Senecas are appealing, saying the contract that stipulated the payments, doesn’t say that at all. We were told by “experts” that bankruptcies would not go up; tell that to the many bankruptcy attorneys who have set up shop in Niagara County, and are doing pretty well.
        We have seen so many property foreclosures, we’ve seen drugs and prostitution crimes skyrocket. People have stolen from employers, from church collections, from charities. We’ve even had a few people set up charities, claiming to be suffering from cancer, only to learn it was all a lie, that the person was a gambling addict. And yes, we’ve had the kids locked in cars in the casino parking ramp.
        No one has come out ahead, with this casino. Except a few Seneca leaders, who don’t seem to be sharing anything much with their tribe.
        The whole casino system is corrupt, wherever you put them.

      2. Yoder in Ohio

        This was a real eye-opener! I had never thought of some of these “side affects.” Thanks for sharing this!

    6. Rod Miller

      Relocate in Carrollton Ohio

      Come to Carroll County. There is plenty of land here for sale. No Casinos either!

    7. Casinos

      Casinos exist for only one reason: to make money for their already rich owners! Greed, and absolutely nothing else, is what motivates them. The extra amount of taxes generated will be frittered away by self-serving politicians. The infrastructure will suffer along with the majority of those who do not want a casino in their community. I’ll bet my life that there are many casinos within easy driving distance for those greedy politicians and those foolish enough to lose their money to a gambling house. The poor suckers who succumb to the desire to gamble evidently don’t know that “the House always wins,” and that’s a shame. It’s not only the gambler her/himself who ultimately loses, it’s those who count on them who lose too. Granted, there are some winners. However, they are professionals who are adroit at the gambling game – and are few and far between. Once again, greed by the county supervisors, is the motivating factor, and when that’s the case no good can come of building a casino in any part of Lancaster County.

    8. Joanne

      Mennonite Reverend??

      The author doesn’t know much about Mennonites. Their pastors are never called “Reverend”

      1. The author uses the word with a capital R (“Reverend”) which would be consistent with using the word as an official title. A lower-case r could just be a generic term for clergy. Perhaps that is what the author meant even though it is capitalized in the original article.

        That said, is it true that no Mennonite churches anywhere use the title “Reverend”? Mennonite churches are not my field of focus so I am putting the question out there.

        When I Google “Mennonite reverend” I get a couple hundred results, including from this book:

        Though it’s true there doesn’t seem to be a lot of usages of the word with a capital “R” title form.

        1. Joanne

          Mennonite "Reverend"

          It is unusual to see a Mennonite pastor being addressed as Reverend so-and-so, because some consider it lofty as it means “worthy to be revered”. It lacks humility, some would say. I think it originated from the teaching about the Pharisees in Matthew 23:7-11~ “…they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” I suppose one will find it used here and there, maybe in the more progressive groups, or in a formal setting, but I don’t think it is common. I’m Mennonite, and addressing our ministers “Pastor” is the norm.

    9. Larry Simon

      Faith is opposite luck

      Our society is obsessed with the idea of luck. Good luck is wished everyday and it means you are wishing someone good results. Some people are lucky and some are not. I rather be lucky than good is often heard in sports. Faith in God is to believe in God for your future and not luck. The Amish culture is established by their faith in the Bible and how their community understands it. There is no luck in the Bible and it has no place in the Amish community. It is easy to fall into the culture around you, I pray God does not let that happen. Faith in the Lord is always better than luck. I rather be full of faith than full of luck!

      1. Nice comment Larry. I’m not really fond of the concept of “luck” and certainly don’t like to put much hope in it. I think that too much of that can lead to a feeling of helplessness and loss of agency.

    10. Weaver

      I also disagree with casinos. Whatever profits are made by state and county are drained from other taxable sources. Money spent at casinos would have been spent elsewhere, such as on remodeling homes and businesses, put into personal savings accounts, used to save for children and grandchildren college or future home and land needs.

      Morgantown is a nice area. I can barely imagine it becoming Alantic City. I have seen casinos in other states, single casinos by themselves which for the most part have had no real negative impact on the local area. It all depends on who is purchasing it and what their overall design is for it. I’m not sure Morgantown is even s good area for their venture. There are already casinos in neighboring Delaware and NJ, and a casino near King of Prussia. It will not become an international draw. In this day and age, most casinos are struggling. I wouldn’t be surprised if it opens and shutters within a few years.

    11. You come at me with sticks and stones and I come with the Word of God

      Casino planned for edge of Lancaster Amish Community

      Let me say first that I have a love and respect for the Amish and Mennonites and their decision to live a “set-apart lifestyle; this is bibical and should not only be supported, but adhered to and admired. I think we should be careful with our words not to place entire people groups into a category based on one or more negative experiences. Their is sin in every denomination, every people group and every persons heart, for we all have fallen short of the glory of God. I pray Ms. Lois Lane, (you attack someone else for being anonymous, yet you use a name from superman…) that you would receive the love of christ in your heart and forgive, so you can be forgiven, for with the measure you judge it shall be used against you.

      All that being said, in 2015 I visited Miller’s Smorgasbord in Lancaster, PA. It was Thanksgivng. There was a long wait, so we sat down in waiting area. I was thumbing through a book. I saw a statement in this amish book, that Lancaster would one day be the place for New world order. I should’ve bought the book, but I didn’t. I don’t know if this was an amish tale passed down for generations or why it was mentioned. Perhaps someone else knows.

      After Trump got elected, he did a lot of rallying in Pennsylvania. One in particular, his 100 days in office speach at New Holland arena, not far from where this casino is being planned, I clearly remember him addressing the people of that area and saying “Don’t sell your houses”. I asked my husband, “Why did he say that?”. No one really knows. He has also said it to people in Youngstown, Ohio.

      Trump obviously built a lot of casinos in his days, which brought both good (jobs to economy) and bad (increased crime). I wouldn’t want it in my backyard. Time for the people of God to gather together and pray and stand for the things of God!

    12. Laura H.

      My opinion, for what it's worth

      I wouldn’t want a casino moving next door to me, either, but I will in fairness point to one tribal casino that has not caused the issues you point to.

      Near where my husband grew up, the local tribe built a small casino. But rather than lining the pockets of a few, what did they do with the profits?

      – Built new schools.
      – Provided decent housing for everyone living on reservation land.
      – Provided decent vehicles for each family that needed one.
      – Cleaned up the roads running through the reservation; when my husband was small, the main road was known as “Pampers Alley,” now it’s spotless.
      -Built a community college on the reservation and pays for students to attend 4-year colleges off-reservation, including law school and I think medical school.
      – Hires young educated tribal members back to work for the tribe.
      – Provides jobs for tribal members — and yes, they may be low-wage jobs, but any job is better than generational unemployment, which used to be the standard for that tribe; tribal unemployment is often 70% or higher for too many tribes.

      So I admit that doesn’t address the problems associated with traffic, lights, etc., but some tribes do use money from casinos to improve life for their members. I just wanted to share this because I will *never* forget how astonished and pleased my husband was when he first saw the reservation after casino funds vs. before casino funds. It’s one way a tribe, often remotely located where there are few if any jobs or services for their members, can get the funding to educate their youth to no longer be trapped in generational poverty and unemployment.

    13. I feel bad for the residents of Morgantown who have made it very clear that this is not something they want in their community. There is no guarantee that this will bring a higher quality of living in the form of jobs and infrastructure. As a county, Lancaster already has a problem with plans to overbuild, high store vacancies, and traffic problems. Did you see what’s going on in Manheim? Tourists aren’t going to flock there to visit the county’s beautiful school athletic fields and strip malls. Finally, if this casino fails, who is going to manage the big vacant nuisance property? There are no guarantees of prosperity when it comes to gambling.

      Had to comment on this one. I’m fired up!

      1. Thanks for the comment Monica, and for mentioning the Manheim issue. I think you mean the proposed Oregon development, correct? Here’s a new article on that issue for those interested, and how it might affect Amish:

        ‘Some Amish farmers who travel by horse and buggy in northern Manheim Township will likely move rather than tangle with heavier traffic from the proposed 75-acre Oregon Village development, an expert of Amish culture testified Monday night.

        Donald Kraybill, a prominent authority on Plain sect communities, said about a dozen members of the Amish community told him traffic safety is a deep concern, particularly on back roads, if the project brings 554 dwelling units plus other high-traffic uses to their mostly agricultural area.

        “The proposed project would disturb, disrupt and threaten their viability,” Kraybill said of the 1,200 Amish from 250 households who live within two miles of the tiny village of Oregon. “A community can only take so much in terms of putting up with factors that they feel may endanger the safety and the compatibility of their culture with a particular area.”’

    14. Walter Boomsma

      Choosing neighbors...

      I for one would rather live near an Amish Community than a casino any day. As others have said before deciding casinos are great, visit communities and see what the experience has been. Nearby Atlantic City is a shining example of what happens when people believe the rhetoric and don’t complete any diligence or do some critical thinking.

      Of course, a casino would love to locate in Morgantown… near an area visited by many tourists who just might come to gamble. But one question that needs to be asked is whether or not tourists who visit the Lancaster Area are likely to patronize the casino. If not, either the casino fails or it must attract tourists who do not appreciate the Lancaster Area for what it offers. One way or another, things are going to change.

    15. Carrie

      Amish and Casinos

      I am not a gambler and don’t go to casinos for such, but I will say they have great buffets and live music events in our area. The place is Clean and the area that the casino is in, is right off an expressway. It does not go through rural areas.

      I do not feel that AMISH as a community should CONTROL how the Non Amish choose to live. With that said, they Choose to live the way they do. It brings attention to them even though they claim to not want to be ‘noticed’ publicly. Their desire to live a simple life is admirable but most people cannot live as simply mainly because the children leave their parents homes and make a life for themselves. With Amish, they are expected to be there to help the parents. If it were not for the children, most Amish adults would not survive their simple lifestyle.

      Also, I CAN see that a secluded Casino may bring in tourism and benefit the Amish with sales of their products. If it were not for English people buying the Amish’s products, the Amish would also fail to be able to live their simple lives. So the matter may be more in Where and how the Casino is located than that there is an Amish community nearby. In a way they balance themselves. Both are extremes. Worldly living as they may put it vs. their Simple life. Too bad Casinos are looked at as only SINFUL places, but then I think the Amish look on non Amish as being more sinful than them anyway. They probably think a Christian could not enter a place such as a Casino and still be a Christian.

      There are those of us that don’t live the gambling drunken lustful lifestyles and should not be put down because we may attend a music concert, or go to Dinner at a place where drunks or gamblers may also go. We respect the community, don’t pollute an area with Garbage and choose to live simple lives too. Just not like the Amish. We CAN learn from one another IF we are humble enough to do so.