Summary: Video gambling terminals were legalized in late 2017 with the first of next year to signal the first machines becoming operational.
Towards the end of 2017, lawmakers in Pennsylvania decided to pass a gaming reform package that gave the gambling industry a huge expansion. Along with online casino and poker gaming, the state allowed for satellite casinos to be created, sports betting and video gambling terminals, among other changes. The video gambling terminals approval has been swept to the wayside for some time as the state focused on sports betting and online gambling. Now it seems that VGTs are back in the spotlight as the state prepares to launch machines at the first of the year.
VGTs are Coming
When 2019 begins, players in Pennsylvania can expect to see video gambling terminals being placed at truck stops in the state. The games are expected to be installed during the first quarter of the year, according to Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
The machines offer various games all in one tiny vessel. Players will be able to enjoy a quick game or two when stopping at a truck stop for gas, a snack or rest. So far, 62 venues that have a truck stop have applied for licensing to be able to offer video gambling terminals. Only 23 of that number have been able to gain conditional approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Truck Stops have to meet certain criteria before they will be approved by the Board. The facility must sell 50,000 gallons of diesel fuels each month as well as have a minimum of 20 dedicated parking spots for commercial vehicles. The facility must also be located on three acres of land. Back in May, the state Board began accepting applications for the VGTs. The applications that have been received so far are requesting to offer as many as five machines at each facility.
The truck stops have to create areas where the machines can be placed for gaming. The games will only be available for players 21 years of age or older. Live surveillance or video surveillance must be installed at the venue to watch the play area. Employees have to be trained to recognize any problem gambling issues to help consumers enjoy themselves.
Counties in the state that already host a casino could chose to opt out of video gambling terminals at truck stops in their area. Each county that is home to one of the 12 casinos decided to opt out. Counties with qualified truck stops that do not have gaming venues in place do not have the ability to opt out. If a facility in such a region wants to offer VGTs they can apply to do so.
Opponents do exist regarding VGTs despite their legality in the state. Opponents have been hard at work to try and deter facilities from offering such gaming options. Advertisements were created to condemn the machines when lawmakers starting suggesting the option within the 2017 bill. The ads along with opinions that were published led to a certain belief about the games.
The games were represented in a negative fashion, with opponents stating that the games would line the streets, being placed near schools, in nursing homes, in restaurants, and more. However, the games are legal and will be regulated by the Board, ensuring player safety.
The truck stops can only offer five machines or less. With all 60 applicants being approved, this would only be 300 machines, a low number when compared to casino games.
It will be interesting to see how the games fare once the VGTs are up and running. It won’t be long before we see the games installed and operational.