VGT Plunder And Parx Online Slot Blunder Warrant Operator Fines From PGCB

Written By Kevin Shelly on April 22, 2021

The theft of a coinbox wasn’t exactly on the same scale as the fictional Ocean’s Eleven casino heist caper. Still, the August 2020 plunder of $3,202.81 from a video gaming terminal, or VGT, made a bit of Pennsylvania gaming history.

Jeffrey M. Murphy went to Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores #324 in Mifflintown, PA at 12:27 a.m. Aug. 21, 2020 and entered the VGT area.

He did not leave for three hours and 19 minutes. And no one noticed him or his behavior.

VGT surveillance failure

While there was video surveillance, employees with other duties at the convenience store and truck stop did not keep an eye on the monitors, nor did the machine’s gaming operator, Second Street Gaming, LLC.

Second Street promises 24/7 monitoring on its website, but that was not the case that night. At the time, it was the only Second Street location operating overnight.

Murphy was in the VGT room making “furtive movements,” according to authorities. He also used several tools to pry out the cash box from one of the five machines, which operate much like a slot machine.

But the theft went unnoticed until 8 a.m.

Murphy, who has a criminal record that includes fleeing a court hearing following a domestic disturbance incident and a bail revocation hearing, has since been prosecuted for the theft, according to PA regulators.

VGT a small but growing slice of gaming revenue

PA currently has 215 VGT machines at 43 truck stop locations, with five machines at each location. A 44th location shut down recently following a sale. Total adjusted revenue from March 2021 for VGTs was more than $3.6 million, a record.

Second State, affiliated with an Illinois VGT company, B&B Amusement, began working in PA in 2018.

The PGCB hit Second State with a fine of $10,000 earlier this week during a PGCB meeting. Love’s is a family-owned company with 30,000 employees in 41 states. PGCB fined Loves $7,500.

Both companies agreed to the fines and undertook additional training, asserting there would be no repeat.

The punishments are the first in the relatively young VGT segment of the PA gaming industry. VGTs launched in the fall of 2019.

Parx parent also punished for a mistake with online games

Regulators also took action against another company earlier this week.

Parx Casino had two video slots online for a brief period – about 15 minutes – before Parx had regulatory approval for the games.

Two patrons discovered the games online during that time. They played and both lost before the games were taken down.

As a result, Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, Inc., Parx’s parent, was fined $5,000 by the PGCB. And the losing players had wagers returned. A Greenwood rep present at the meeting noted that the mistake was self-reported by Parx to the PGCB and that additional measures are now in place to prevent a future occurrence.

The penalty was the first for online gambling in PA.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Brandon Wade

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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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