The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced on Wednesday that it had approved a fine of $45,000 for Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, for allowing underage gambling at one of its video gaming terminals. The incident occurred at a gaming terminal located in a truck stop in Smithton. The Pilot Travel Centers also failed to have a board-credentialed employee on duty.
The $45,000 fine, which is the largest ever levied on a VGT vendor, was negotiated between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) and Pilot Travel Centers. No action was taken by regulators against the license held by the company.
Overall, Pilot Travel Centers owns and operates more than three dozen PA VGTs at nine locations in rest or truck stops across the Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania VGT operator fined for underage gambling
A consent agreement was reached between the OEC and Pilot Travel Centers for an incident in March at its store designated No. 620. During the incident of illegal video gaming terminal play, a minor younger than six years of age was in the gaming area and reportedly played a VGT or was at its controls.
All VGT establishment licensees are required to have a board-certified attendant on-site at all times.
An investigation revealed that for more than 138 hours between March 1 and March 14, 2023, the Pilot Travel Center 620 location operated without a board-credentialed employee on duty. In addition, a minor was seen placing wagers at least twice, and for as long as an hour, which was also an issue.
Erin Cordier, a representative of Pilot Travel Centers, explained that Pilot took full responsibility for the incident. The company revealed that there has subsequently been “an entire changeover of staff” at the Pilot Travel Center 620 location where the incident occurred.
Practicing responsible gambling at VGT locations in Pennsylvania
The staff has now been trained that they should lock the gaming area at times when a board-certified personnel is not present. It also revealed that PA responsible gambling messaging is available at the location.
An employee in attendance at Wednesday’s PGCB meeting also shared that since March, she has made at least one phone call to authorities when she witnessed a patron gambling at the VGT while a minor was left unattended in a car outside.
Unfortunately, this issue has been common at Pennsylvania casinos, too. The PGCB was forced to roll out a campaign last year in order to try to stop these incidents from occurring.
By law, operational regulated Video Gaming Terminal locations can have up to five gaming terminals. Those machines must be maintained and available for inspection by state regulators and representatives of the PGCB.
The state offers board-certified credentials programs for staff at the locations. As of August 2023, the PGCB website lists 69 locations with VGTs across Pennsylvania, by as many as 17 operators.