This past week, eight members of the Philadelphia city council said they’d support local legislation to reject VGTs and satellite casinos. The former needs approved by Philadelphia County before truck stops can install any machines.
The move comes as Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion bill legalized VGTs at truck stops and up to 10 satellite casinos. The law does give municipalities the choice to opt-out of satellites and counties to opt-out of VGTs.
Philadelphia Councilman Bobby Henon was pretty clear about why he and his seven colleagues indicated their distaste for expansion in their county.
“We want to send a strong message,” he was quoted as saying in the Inquirer. “We don’t want this kind of gaming expansion here in the city of Philadelphia.”
A final vote on the matter will take place this week.
Fear is VGT’s will be contagious
Pennsylvania’s gambling law now allows for VGTs at truck stops that meet certain requirements: at least 50,000 gallons of diesel sold each of the past 12 months, at least 20 commercial parking spots, and a few other requirements.
Henon said that his main concern is that VGTs in truck stops today means VGTs in bars and other locations tomorrow. Ironically, Philly.com reports that not a single truck stop or gas station in the city meets the requirements needed to install VGTs.
Other arguments from the councilman include the fact that 26 percent of Philadelphia’s population is in poverty. In his mind, VGTs would only exacerbate the problem.
At the time of publishing, though, only three counties had officially filed their VGT opt-outs with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
Satellites a no-go, too
The city will also opt-out of satellite casinos, which are smaller versions of their full-fledged cousins. The law allows for up to 10 satellites with a max of 750 slots and 40 table games at each location. As mentioned earlier, municipalities have the choice to opt-out of satellites.
The list of more than 200 municipalities who’ve opted out is available on the PGCB‘s website.
Satellites, VGT’s present interesting problem for counties, municipalities
The gambling expansion bill was a bit of a free-for-all in the sense it opened up multiple gambling avenues. Some of those will directly benefit existing brick-and-mortar casinos: online gambling and satellite casinos.
However, VGT’s don’t work in the favor of casinos, the thinking goes. Opponents worry they pull customers away from casino floors and into truck-stop gambling nooks. Truckers, however, are split on the matter. Some believe it will keep truckers awake and jeopardize their safety as well as the safety of other drivers, while others welcome the chance to do some gambling during their mandatory 10-hour rest time.