VGT Truck Stop Establishments Reach 20 And Continue Growing

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One of the quieter, more secluded parts of Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion continued growing in the latter part of 2019 and is poised to spread further this year.

There are now 20 video gaming terminal truck stop operations in the state, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported Monday. The first opened Aug. 22.

Among them, the truck stops took $24.4 mm in wagers last year and retained $2.3 mm in revenue, a hold percentage of nearly 10%. The 100 machines (each licensed truck stop is permitted no more than five VGTs) generated tax revenue for the state of $1.2 mm.

VGT expansion adds legal gambling where it wasn’t

The VGTs were part of a wide-ranging law enacted in October 2017 that received more attention in Pennsylvania for its other aspects, such as authorizing sports betting, mini-casinos, and online operations by both casinos and the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The VGT provision legalized gambling similar to slot machine play for primarily rural parts of the state that may be distant from the 12 existing casinos, which are in or near population centers. The VGTs are excluded from most of the counties that contain casinos.

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Of the 20 truck stops with VGTs, six are in York County, two each in Clinton and Venango counties, and one each in Adams, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Columbia, Cumberland, Franklin, Jefferson, and Juniata.

Ten of them are operated by the Rutter’s convenience store chain, based in York County, and five others by Travel Centers of America.

Among requirements to be licensed, a facility must sell an average of 50,000 gallons or more of diesel fuel monthly, contain a convenience store, and provide at least 20 parking spaces dedicated to commercial motor vehicles.

Number will likely more than double this year

The VGTs must be in their own separate area on the premises under monitoring by staff or cameras, with no one under 21 permitted to gain access. Unlike casino slots, they have caps of $5 per spin and $1,000 in any single payout.

By the end of 2020, there will likely be at least twice as many truck stop VGTs in operation as there are today.

A total of 25 establishments have received licenses and 29 more have received conditional approval from the gaming board. There have been estimates that a couple hundred locations could meet the eligibility criteria, though not all of them would necessarily want to pursue a license.

Photo by Shutterstock.com

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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