More than three-quarters of Lancaster County municipalities have decided not to allow video gambling machines inside large trucks stops.
As of Monday, at least 47 of the county’s 60 municipalities had taken advantage of an opt-out provision in a state law that allowed the machines, according to the Pennsylvania Control Board and the municipalities themselves.
Opt-out resolutions are due to the state’s Gaming Control Board by Aug. 31.
The machines — known as video gaming terminals, or VGTs — were legalized in large truck stops statewide as part of a 2017 expanded gambling law, which was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
But in July, Wolf signed a bill allowing Lancaster County municipalities to opt out of allowing the machines in certain high-traffic truck stops with convenience stores.
Past efforts to expand gambling in Lancaster County have met with swift resistance. In 2017, following the gambling law’s enactment, all 60 Lancaster County municipalities passed a resolution to keep out mini-casinos. The same opt-out option was not given for video gaming terminals.
Following several lawsuits by Rutter’s, which wanted to place video gaming terminals in a number of its stores in Lancaster County, state Sens. Scott Martin, R-Martic Township, and Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, co-wrote a bill to allow municipalities to opt out.
Anti-gambling advocate Dianne Berlin said she was grateful to the state senators so “at least Lancaster County municipalities were given a voice” on whether to allow the machines.
The first five Rutter’s video gaming terminals went live across the Susquehanna River in York County last week.
More votes coming
Warwick Township was set to vote on a resolution this week, while Christiana Borough will vote on an opt-out measure on Aug. 28, just days before the deadline.
At least one municipality won’t bother to do so.
Lancaster Township will forgo a vote since they “have no qualifying locations” to house video gaming terminals anyway, according to manager William Laudien. “So opting out is moot,” he wrote in an email.
Several other Lancaster Township municipalities had similar arguments, including Eden and Leacock townships. However, both municipalities passed opt-out resolutions as a preventive measure.
In Mount Joy Township, a measure to vote on a video gaming terminal opt-out resolution didn’t make it past an initial motion Monday, presumably resulting in the municipality missing the opt-out window there.