Online Casinos Still Waiting, But The VGT Licensing Process Is Now Underway

Written By Marty Derbyshire on January 31, 2018 - Last Updated on October 17, 2022
Commercial truck behind parking cones

Applications for truck stops that want video gaming terminals (VGTs) are now up on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board ((PGCB) website.

Plus, the board announced it will start accepting them from qualified applicants beginning May 7, 2018.

Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill in October 2017. The new law legalizes and regulates online gambling, daily fantasy sports and online lottery sales. It also includes regulations allowing truck stops that meet certain criteria to install up to five VGTs on site.

The truck stops must have diesel fuel islands used for fueling commercial motor vehicles. They must also have sold an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel or biodiesel fuel every month for the past year. Truck stops can also qualify by projecting to meet those numbers over the next year.

The truck stops also need to provide parking for at least 20 trucks. Additionally, they must sit on at least three acres of land not owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Finally, the truck stops must operate a convenience store on site and hold a state lottery sales license.

More on the VGT vetting process

Once an application is submitted, the applicant will receive instructions for how to be fingerprinted. The application will be deemed complete after the board receives fingerprint results and all deficiencies are cured.

Each individual and entity associated with a completed application then undergoes a background check.

Additional information on VGTs at truck stops can be found within the frequently asked questions section of the board’s website.

VGTs similar to casino slot machines

According to the board, VGTs operate in a similar way as a slot machines in a typical casino.

The VGTs will only accept cash. Winnings will be paid through tickets and a redemption machine.

The maximum bet on each VGT will be $5 with a maximum payout of $1,000.

The VGTs at truck stops in PA will be forced by law to have return to player rates set at a minimum of 85 percent. That means that although each VGT spin is random and independent of one another, theoretically, each machine will be set to pay out a minimum of 85 cents of every dollar put in it. The same law applies to slot machines in Pennsylvania casinos.

Only persons 21 and over will be allowed to play. The truck stop must place the machines in an area segregated from minors where an employee can observe to ensure it.

PA counties that currently host casinos were able to opt out of allowing local truck stops to operate VGTs, provided they passed a resolution prohibiting the activity and forwarded it to the board by the end of last year. Ten of those counties chose to do so.

Tax dollars ready to roll

The state plans to charge a 52 percent tax on Truck stop VGT revenues. A total of 42 percent of gross revenues will go into the state’s newly-established Video Gaming Fund and end up in Pennsylvania’s General Fund. The plan is to use another 10 percent of gross VGT revenues for grants to counties. The grant program is being run through the Commonwealth Finance Agency.

Gas stations in the Pennsylvania already help fill state coffers in a big way.

In fact, Pennsylvania had already been charging the highest state motor-fuel taxes in the country when the state tax on gas and diesel fuel went up again January 1.

State gas tax is now 58 cents per gallon in Pennsylvania. State tax on diesel fuel is 74 cents per gallon.

The federal government also charges a federal excise tax on gasoline of 18.4 cents per gallon. It is 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.

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Marty Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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