It has been over a year since the Keystone State passed its large gambling expansion bill and since then there have been a ton of developments ranging from the launch of sports betting to the approval of several online gaming licenses. Now, the next step seems to be the push for truck stop gambling, something that has been materializing in Center County where two truck stops are being prepared to become the future homes of video gaming terminals. TravelCenters of American (TA) in Milesburg and Snow Shoe Travel Plaza in Snow Shoe, the two casinos, both already have applications pending a decision from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board that will see up to five video gaming terminals (VGTs) installed at their establishments.
To clear things up, video gaming terminals are very different from the mini-casinos of which the Keystone State added 10 licenses. The municipalities were allowed to opt out of allowing these mini-casinos to be established within their jurisdictions and more than 400 of them did just that. As far as gaming machines go, the video gaming terminals operate in the same way as slot machines and only accept cash. The maximum bet for a single play at these terminals in $5 with a maximum payout of $1,000.
According to Doug Harbach, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s communications director, there are several qualifications that the establishments hoping to offer video gaming must meet before they are awarded the necessary licenses. First, the establishment should be equipped with diesel islands that will be used for fueling commercial motor vehicles and at the time of application should have sold an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel every month for the previous 12 months or is projected to do so within the next 12 months. Second, the place should be situated in a parcel of land of not less than three acres and have no less than 20 parking space dedicated to commercial vehicles. In addition to that, the establishment should have a convenience store and should be a PA Lottery Sale Agent as well.
The state gaming control board began accepting applications for video gaming terminals back in May 2018, and even though the regulator has not specified the number of video gaming terminal licenses that they will award, Doug Harbach stated that we can expect “anywhere from 200-300 facilities that may adhere to the qualifications.”
AS of this writing, the gaming control board has revealed that the Snow Shoe Travel plaza has conditional approval for a license. The Milesburg TA’s application, on the other hand, is currently yet to be authorized and is thus still “unauthorized.”