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Rutter's picks Penn National affiliate to run truck-stop gaming

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After submitting applications with state gaming regulators to offer video gaming terminals at 20 of its stores, York County-based convenience-store chain Rutter's has chosen an operating partner.

Rutter's said Monday that Marquee by Penn LLC, an affiliate of Penn National Gaming Inc., will be its terminal operator, pending approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

State law requires so-called truck stop establishments to partner with licensed operators to run video gaming terminals, with the truck stops receiving 15 percent of the gross terminal revenue. 

As of Friday, the board had received 64 applications from companies that want licenses to house video gaming terminals, or VGTs, at truck stops.

The board has been conducting on-site inspections to ensure applicants meet requirements to house the terminals. Before VGTs can go live, the board will need to go back and make sure the machines also are in compliance with the law.

There is no deadline for completing inspections so there is no start date for when VGTs will begin operating.

"We're not there yet," said Richard McGarvey, a board spokesman, calling the process a "fluid" one.

Penn National has received a conditional license from the board to act as a terminal operator.

Convenience-store operator United Refining Co. has chosen another Harrisburg-area company, Commonwealth Gaming, as terminal operator at some of United Refining's Kwik Fill and Country Fair stores. United Refining has applied for VGTs at five stores.

VGTs, which are similar to slot machines, are allowed under the gambling expansion bill signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017. The bill also legalized mini-casinos, internet gambling and fantasy sports betting in Pennsylvania.

A legislative proposal is currently circulating in the state Senate that could amend the law, known as Act 42, as it pertains to truck stops. Sens. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument, both of Lancaster County, are planning to introduce legislation this session that would allow municipalities to pass a resolution barring VGTs at truck stops within their borders.

Counties that already host a casino were allowed to opt out of VGTs under Act 42, and many have. But municipalities were not given the option.

Truck stop requirements

Under the gambling expansion law, truck stops must meet several requirements to be considered for VGTs. 

Among other things, they must: be equipped with diesel islands used for fueling commercial motor vehicles; have sold an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel or biodiesel fuel each month for the previous 12 months or be projected to sell an average of 50,000 gallons for the next 12 months; have at least 20 parking spaces dedicated for commercial motor vehicles; be a convenience store; be a PA Lottery Sales Agent; and occupy at least 3 acres.

A single establishment can have up to five VGTs, which will accept only cash. Winnings will be paid through a redemption machine. The maximum bet is $5, with the maximum payout set at $1,000.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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