The first video gaming terminals (VGTs) in Pennsylvania are forthcoming, courtesy of a new partnership between Penn National Gaming and Rutter’s convenience stores.
Earlier this week, Penn National announced it entered into a deal with Rutter’s, noting that the regional casino giant would supply up to five VGTs in 20 Rutter’s locations throughout the Keystone State.
Now, more than a year after they became a sticking point when legislation was introduced in 2017, VGTs are on their way to the Pennsylvania public, pending approval from state gaming regulators.
In a statement from John Finamore, Penn National senior vice president of regional operations, discussed the new deal:
“We look forward to working with Rutter’s to introduce VGT gaming in the Commonwealth. Like Rutter’s, we started with a single facility in central Pennsylvania. Today, we are the largest regional gaming operator in the United States with a demonstrated track record of providing quality entertainment and customer service. We are excited to combine our expertise with Rutter’s established success in the convenience store industry to offer VGT gaming at their qualified locations.”
Penn National adds to its portfolio
With 41 properties in 18 states, Penn National sits as the nation’s largest regional casino operator. Rutter’s calls itself “an industry leader with the latest advancements in technology, sustainability, consumer marketing and philanthropy.”
Rutter’s boasts 70 locations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. Twenty Pennsylvania sites are expected to initially qualify to host VGTs.
In a statement from Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s:
“Rutter’s is a proud, Pennsylvania-based company with a storied history in the Commonwealth and a proven commitment to the communities in which we serve. Penn National shares these same attributes, and we look forward to partnering with them to provide our customers the opportunity to enjoy playing VGTs at a number of our locations throughout Pennsylvania.”
For Penn National, this deal expands the company’s footprint. While VGTs became a point of contention during online gambling legislation in 2017, including the opposition of some casinos, Penn National still moves forward in offering these machines. Conveniently, most VGT and casino suppliers are one and the same.
Additionally, Penn National has an opportunity to grow its VGT market even further.
Penn National adding to Illinois operation
Based in Wyomissing, Penn National acquired an Illinois slot machine operation in 2015. Such a move allowed the casino giant to step foot into the Midwest market.
Since then, Illinois has swelled into a high-profile slot route state. According to CDC Gaming Reports, by the end of November, nearly 6,800 taverns, convenience stores, bars and other locations combined to operate 30,735 VGTs in Illinois. That month, VGT revenue stood at $125.1 million.
Diving deeper, per Illinois Gaming Board figures, customers wagered more than $1.5 billion and won more than $1.4 billion.
Penn National boasts that VGTs in Illinois pay out 26 percent more in revenue, on average than its competitors.
So while projections for Pennsylvania VGT revenue remain unclear, the success of Illinois at least puts Penn National in a position to take advantage of the Pennsylvania gaming market, which continues to expand in all aspects.
What operating VGTs entails
Like casino slot machines, VGTs have outcomes determined by random number generators. In order to offer VGTs, locations must meet several criteria.
- Sell an average of 50,000 gallons per month in diesel fuels
- Have 20 dedicated parking spots for commercial motor vehicles
- Sit on a parcel of at least 3 acres
State law sets the maximum bet at $5 with a max payout of $1,000.
Since first accepting applications in May, Pennsylvania has received requests from 60 locations to house VGTs, each of which can operate up to five machines. More than 20 locations have since received conditional approval.
Penn National already earned its conditional license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, while Rutter’s has sent in its application to regulators.
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