First Few Weeks Of VGT Operations Fuel Truck Stops With $325K In Revenue

Posted on October 4, 2019

The first revenue numbers on video gaming terminals (VGTs) from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) are in. The initial revenue report covers the first six weeks of VGT operations.

VGTs are one of a number of elements legalized in the 2017 PA gambling expansion package. The truck stop gaming machines will be a minor state gaming revenue contributor.

Total adjusted revenue for VGTs from this first reporting, ending on Sept. 30, 2019, was $324,710. Total tax revenue through September was $168,849. Like online slots, VGTs are heavily taxed. The taxation rate on the machines is 52%.

VGTs amount to just a sliver of gaming revenue so far

By means of comparison, August revenue for PA daily fantasy sports, usually the lowest performer, was $1,388,631.

The online casino slot revenue for August was $2,746,644.56 and the state tax revenue for just three casino slot operations was $933,859.16. Online slots debuted on July 15. Currently, the three online casino sites feature relatively small game libraries.

While not overseen by PGCB, the Pennsylvania Lottery’s online games generated about $32 million for the state in its first year of operation.

The very first VGT location debuted on August 16 and August numbers are included in the initial revenue report. Future PGCB reports will come out monthly.

Pennsylvania considered but ultimately rejected allowing licensed VGTs in any location licensed to serve liquor, a model used in Illinois, which has 27,000 VGT locations. In Illinois, VGTs generate almost as much for the state as do its casinos.

VGT revenue for Aug. and Sept. 2019

Because VGTs are so new, the initial report covered only two operators at seven locations, each location with five machines. The PGCB should be approving several more venues in the coming months.

Here is a look at the revenue numbers from August and September:

VGT OPERATORAugust/September

Wagers
August/September

Payouts
August/September

Gross Revenue
Marquee by Penn 1$2,260,942.11$2,034,199.52$226,742.59
Commonwealth Gaming 2$1,187,939.00$1,089,971.36$97,967.64
STATEWIDE TOTAL$3,448,881.11$3,124,170.88$324,710.23

1 Operates at Rutter’s on Susquehanna Trail in York, Rutter’s on W. Market St. in York, Rutter’s in Mifflintown, and Rutter’s in Duncansville.

2 Operates at Emlenton Truck Plaza in Emlenton, Bald Eagle Truck Stop in McElhattan, and Snow Shoe Travel Plaza in Snow Shoe.

VGT details

VGTs are similar to conventional casino slot machines. The terminals have a randomly generated outcome, as do slots. Additionally, like slots, they must return at least .85 cents of each dollar to players.

The maximum bet allowed is $5, while the top payout is $1,000.

There are a limited number of venues for VGTs since truck stops are the only locations that can host the machines.

To qualify, truck stops must have:

  • Diesel fueling islands for fueling commercial motor vehicles
  • An average of 50,000 gallons of fuel each month in sales
  • Parking for 20 or more trucks
  • A location on at least three acres with a convenience store.

Attempts to place VGTs in Lancaster County, which had opted out of other gambling activities caused controversy. Eventually, a law was passed excluding the county, which has a high concentration of Amish, a religious denomination which avoids wagering,

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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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