Truck stop gambling will probably start by the end of 2019, and the first truck stop to start offering such services is most likely to be Bandit Truck Stop. The latter plans to capitalize on the gambling expansions in Pennsylvania, which was officially signed into law in 2017, by adding five slot machine-style video gambling terminals (VGTs).
So far, Pennsylvania authorities have provided more than twenty establishments across the state with conditional license approval but the exact timing of the first terminals’ launch still remains unknown.
Bandit Truck Stop owners have revealed plans to remodel the facility’s second-floor driver lounge into premises resembling a small casino. As mentioned above, the process will also include the addition of five slot-like gambling machines. The company which owns and runs the truck stop – Pipeline Petroleum Inc. – has joined forces with VGT operator Commonwealth Gaming and is willing to start offering the new gambling option as early as the second fiscal quarter in case that it receives final approval by the state authorities.
VGTs are actually lower-stakes slot machines, which in Pennsylvania have a maximum betting stake limit of $5 and a maximum payout of $1,000. The minimum payout percentage of the machines has been set to 85%, which equals the one in Pennsylvania’s casinos. Video gambling terminals will also pay taxes to the state, with the tax amounting to 52%, just 2 percentage points down the 54% tax collected from the slot machines in the state’s casinos.
Bandit Truck Stop Could Face Some Competition in VGT Offering
The specifications of the gambling expansion law could end the monopoly of Bandit Truck Stop as the only truck stop in Lehigh Valley to offer the machines.
Northampton County decided to greenlight the terminals, while Trexler Plaza Truck Stop situated in Upper Macungie Township is still considering whether or not to apply for a permission. As far as the entire territory of the state is concerned, the latest update of the list (made on January 8th), shows that Pennsylvania regulator has so far granted 24 sites a conditional approval, while the applications of 40 other have not been processed yet.
As CasinoGamesPro reported earlier, under the existing legislation, the state of Pennsylvania allows VGTs to be hosted by truck stops which meet certain conditions only. Qualifying stops must be situated on at least 3 acres of land; must have sold an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel on a monthly basis over the last year; must have no less than 20 parking spaces for trucks and must also have a convenience store. Last but not least, they need to have a license which gives them the right to operate as a lottery sales agent.
When each location gets the desired conditional approval, representatives of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will inspect each truck stop to make sure that they meet the above-mentioned criteria. As explained by the PGCB spokesman Richard McGarvey, the VGT software will also be tested by the Board before the machines start operation.