New Truck Stop VGT Sites Approved In PA For Post-Coronavirus Shutdown

Written By Kevin Shelly on April 8, 2020
More truck stops in PA approved for VGTs

Four new truck stop video gaming terminals (VGTs) can launch in Pennsylvania. But for now, the public cannot use them due to virus shutdown restrictions.

Second State Gaming had four locations approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on April 1.

They are:

  • Carlisle
  • Jonestown
  • Hamburg
  • Mifflinville

Three of the locations are in the southern portion of PA, Mifflinville is in the northeast.

Harrisburg-based Second State plans to operate and service the machines, which are similar to slot machines.

All gaming currently paused due to virus restrictions

All VGT operations closed down on March 19, along with the remaining open land-based casinos. PA officials ordered the closures due to the virus epidemic. The only gaming currently allowed in the state is through one of eight regulated online casinos.

For now, when VGTs are allowed to reopen is unclear, but Second State went ahead with its approval process anyway. Jennifer Caruso, vice president of operations for Second State, said in the presser:

“We’re excited to begin providing truck stop owners in Pennsylvania with top-of-the-line VGTs to expand their offerings and increase their revenue. We look forward to the start of operations at these locations.”

VGTs, which cannot be near casinos, are primarily in rural or less populated portions of PA. But all of Lancaster County was carved out as an area with no VGT locations due to religious concerns among the Amish.

VGTs came with gaming expansion

The devices came as part of the 2017 gaming expansion law in PA.

Locations must meet a list of criteria designed to assure the primary audience for the machines are truck drivers stopping to fuel vehicles. Approved sites are allowed up to five devices. The machines mush be vetted, and locations must be approved by PGCB personnel.

Pennsylvania had considered but ultimately rejected VGTs in any location licensed to serve liquor.

That’s a model used in Illinois, which has 27,000 VGT locations. VGTs generate almost as much for Illinois as do its casinos. That’s not quite the case in Pennsylvania.

Video gaming terminals taxed heavily, but modest revenue producer

The tax revenue from VGTs in PA is relatively small, just $2,489,080 from their start last August through this February. The machines brought $697,806 to the state in February.

Taxes on the machines are at a rate of 52%.

The maximum bet on VGTs is $5. The most anyone can win on a single spin or pay is $1,000. Like casino gambling, you must be at least 21 years old to play.

When gaming does return to the Keystone State, there will be a handful of new options for rural drivers and residents.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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