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Residents of Shippensburg Township and neighboring municipalities packed a room at the Shippensburg University Conference Center Monday afternoon for an almost three-hour hearing in which both those in favor of a proposed casino near the King Street exit of Interstate 81 and those opposed pleaded their case with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Parx Casino, if approved, would be located on about 10 acres of land at 777 Cramer Road in Shippensburg Township, according to Tony Ricci, chief executive officer for Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment.

The building would be centered in the property and surrounded by 500 parking spaces. The 65,000-square-foot facility would house about 475 slot machines and 40 gaming tables alongside a sports bar and restaurant.

Ricci said the casino would also offer a sports book for betting on professional and college sports. He said the project would create about 630 construction jobs, and 320 permanent jobs.

Shippensburg Township and Cumberland County would see about $1.8 million per year in local share funds from the casino, Ricci said.

Some municipal officials and public safety personnel generally offered support for the casino, sometimes peppered with requests for funding from the casino owners or with words of caution about the potential effect of the casino on services.

Chief Meredith A. Dominick of the Shippensburg Police Department said the casino could be a “wonderful thing,” and she’s hopeful the casino would bring revitalization to the area, including the borough.

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That, however, will bring an added burden to her department, which provides assistance to Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Carlisle and Chambersburg and other municipalities.

“We are very excited about the casino coming to the area. Yet, from a police standpoint, we need to be able to support that excitement to the necessary and needed manpower, resources and equipment,” Dominick said.

Those involved in human services fields and the religious community largely spoke against the proposal.

Janet Rose, president of the Shippensburg Civic Club, talked about the effect of gambling on Atlantic City and in other areas, citing decreased property values and lack of development of non-gaming businesses nearby.

“People who run casinos do not encourage patrons to wander out in the neighborhood. It is designed to be an all-absorbing environment that does not release customers until they have exhausted their money,” she said.

The gaming control board will continue taking comments through the week, and will schedule a meeting in the future at which the board will decide on the proposal.

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Email Tammie at tgitt@cumberlink.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.

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