Legislation to Allow Lancaster County to Opt Out of VGT Gaming Moves Forward
In Pennsylvania, the end of 2017 was a big year. A gaming package was approved that allowed the state to make several changes to their gambling industry. Included in the mix was video gaming terminals. Also known as VGTs, the games can be added to approved areas to bring in revenues and provide gaming to players. One county wants the right to opt out and special legislation has been moving quickly to allow just that.
In Pennsylvania, Lancaster County is a large area known for the Amish residents as well as agriculture. The region is known to be conservative and not a fan of gambling. The region already opted out of being a host for mini casinos but they were not given the option to do the same for the video gaming terminals, based on state law.
Senator Scott Martin and Senator Ryan P. Aument are working to fast-track legislation to see Lancaster County avoid the new gaming devices. The Senators feel the measure could be approved as soon as the end of this month.
The Senators feel that the residents should have a choice as to what they will find in their community. Gambling is one activity that the lawmakers feel that citizens should be able to have a say.
With the installation of VGTs, there can only be five machines in one location. Only truck stops that have been approved can offer the machines. The terminals are similar to a slot game as they use a random number generator to determine the outcome.
The machines accept cash only and the maximum wager per round is $5. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the return to player percentage for the games is 85 cents to a dollar. This is the same as slots in the state.
For truck stops to offer the games, they must have diesel islands and sell an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel each month. The parking lot must have a minimum of 20 spaces for truck parking and operate a convenience store. The stop must be operating on a minimum of 3 acres and they sell lottery tickets and offer showers for truck drivers.
With the legislation, the House of Representatives must support the opt-out. Then, Governor Tom Wolf needs to sign the measure into law or allow the measure to become law. If the bill is approved, then Lancaster County would be able to opt-out and avoid the gaming machines.
Currently, there are over 60 pending applications for VGTs. In Lancaster County, five locations have applied. The locations have met the conditional approval terms set by the board. Rutters is a convenience store chain that has applied for three of the spots in Lancaster County.
Now, only time will tell if the applications will be approved and be able to move forward or if the bill allowed the opt-out will win. It is unclear if the bill has enough support to move forward.