In late 2017, several changes were approved for the gambling landscape in the state of Pennsylvania. Included in the mix were video gaming terminals. Truck stops that meet certain requirements can apply for licensing and then be able to offer the slot style games. Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is an Amish community that is not happy about VGTs coming to their region. Just this week, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation into law which allows the county to be the only one to refuse the machines in their area.
In Pennsylvania, there are 67 counties. Of that number, only 12 were automatically out of hosting the video gaming terminals because they were home to a casino. The remaining counties did not have the ability to opt out as per the gaming package that was approved in 2017. In that same package though, counties had the option to opt out of satellite casinos. Lancaster County did opt out to hosting the smaller gaming venues in their region.
They wanted the same option with video gaming terminals and legislation was created to give them that power. Before the bill was in place, five of the 60 applications pending for VGTS in the state were based in Lancaster County. With this new legislation, the applications could be voided.
Towns in the county have 60 days to pass an opt-out resolution. The bill does have a provision to allow cities to opt back in if they so choose.
Now that the bill has been passed into law, the communities in Lancaster County will have to pass resolutions to prevent VGTs from being in their region. A municipality’s governing body will need to deliver a resolution to the Gaming Control Board stating that they want to prohibit video gaming terminals. The resolution must be provided by August 31st.
The resolutions must be sent to the secretary of the board before the August deadline. As resolutions come in, the board will make the information public on their website. In Lancaster County, it was Rutters, a convenience store chain, that wanted to offer video gaming terminals in their facilities. The company has yet to comment on the law signed by Governor Wolf this week.
To be able to host VGTs, a truck stop must be approved and can only offer five of the slot-style machines. The terminals act like a slot machine because they use a random number generator to create the outcome. The machines require cash to play and will take a max bet of $5 for each round.
To qualify, a truck stop must have diesel islands and sell as much as 50,000 gallons in diesel a month. A minimum of 20 truck parking spaces are required along with a convenience store on-site. The truck stop must also sell lottery tickets as well as have a minimum of three acres and have showers for drivers.
It will be interesting to see which communities in the county decide to opt out of the video gaming terminals. It would not be surprising to see the majority or all choose not to offer the slot style gaming. Because the majority of the region are the Amish, residents will most likely push to avoid allowing the games in their region. The communities have just over a month to make the decision and turn in a resolution to the board with their request to ban the video gaming terminals from being installed.