The situation with state-operated gambling services in Dauphin County may change soon, as last week local commissioners voted 3 to 0 to lift the existing ban on the permission of slots-style video gaming terminals (VGTs) at truck stops that meet the legislative requirements.
Video gambling has been part of the comprehensive gambling expansion bill that the General Assembly of the state of Pennsylvania introduced in 2017.
Under the piece of legislation, Pennsylvania counties that are home to commercial casinos to ban video gambling on truck stops as a measure to protect their existing casino market. Dauphin County was one of the regions that opted out of truck-stop VGTs, but it has always had the opportunity to add the option to its legal gambling sector. This is exactly what the county’s board did at its meeting at the beginning of December.
For the time being, there has already been one applicant for two truck-stop gaming licenses in the country. The permit allows its holders to offer no more than five video gambling terminals to patrons who are over 21 years of age. This one applicant is the convenience store company Rutter’s which is known as the first of its kind in Pennsylvania to seek out a video gambling license for its truck stops across the state.
Penn National Gaming Does Not Fear Competition Despite Rutter’s Eager Push into Video Gambling
Currently, Rutter’s is applying for approval of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to operate the video gaming machines at one of its stores situated in Londonderry Township. The company is also seeking the Board’s permission to offer video gambling services at a location near Duncannon.
The application may turn out a positive thing for Rutter’s but some experts have shared doubts that the situation might lead to some problems for Hollywood Casino that is hosted in East Hanover Township.
Earlier in 2019, Penn National Gaming, the parent company of the afore-mentioned casino venue, got an approval for its subsidiary Marquee to become a supplier and operator of video gambling terminals to the truck stops. Furthermore, the subsidiary inked a contract with the Rutter’s to provide and service the VGTs at all Rutter’s locations. According to some analysts, this partnership could be the beginning of the end for the Hollywood Casino, as the new form of gambling could seriously hurt its performance.
On the other hand, a spokesman for Penn National shared that the gambling operator is not much worried about losing its business because currently there are very few Dauphin County-based truck stops that are eligible to get a video gambling license.
So far, Rutter’s has applied for video gambling licenses that would allow it to place the electronic gambling machines at 27 of its stores. It has already received the state authorities’ nod for nine of these locations, while a few others have been withdrawn due to public criticism and harsh opposition to its application.