A lawmaker in Pennsylvania wants to put the brakes on truck stop gambling. Senator Scott Martin introduced a bill this past January, Senate Bill (SB) 87, that seeks to give local communities more control over the activity. SB 87 already has five co-sponsors, per the Pennsylvania government’s website, and is currently with a Senate committee, but has not yet been heard.
If the bill makes it through, a municipality would be able to inform the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) of its desire to prohibit video gaming. That municipality would also have the option to reverse its decision at any time and deliver a new resolution to the PGCB. If a municipality blocks truck stop gambling after a license has been issued, the PGCB would be able to issue a refund.
Truck stop gambling started taking off after gambling expansion was approved in the state in 2017. However, Martin doesn’t like how the activity has progressed. He explained to Transport Topics, “The applications now are popping up everywhere, and convenience stores, these rest stops are making requests to change things on their property to accommodate that. Our local governments, our citizens have been upset that all of these applications for video gaming terminals are popping up.”
To drum up support for his bill, Martin sent a letter to his fellow lawmakers last December that read, “In October 2017, Governor Wolf signed Act 42, an omnibus gaming bill, into law. One of the key components of this legislation allowed local governments to opt-out of having a category 4 ‘mini-casino’ in their municipality. By December 31, 2017, over 1,000 municipalities across the Commonwealth adopted resolutions to opt-out.
“In addition to many other types of gaming expansion, Act 42 also created the opportunity for truck stop establishments who meet certain criteria to host up to 5 video game terminals (VGTs). An opt-out was available, but only for counties who had a Category 1, 2 or 3 casino already in their county. Ultimately 10 of the 12 counties with casinos adopted resolutions to opt-out.
“Municipalities that do not want to see gaming expand into their communities should have the right to say no. The people should have the ability to maintain and protect their individual culture and that is why we are introducing legislation that will allow all municipalities, by resolution, to prohibit the use of VGTs at local truck stops.”
The Community, Economic & Recreational Development committee in the Pennsylvania Senate currently has the bill. However, the committee has no scheduled meetings in the near future and it isn’t clear when the bill might be heard.