Erie county truck stops will most likely not be allowed to have video gaming terminals inside, even after Governor Tom Wolf signs a gaming expansion bill into law.
The governor recently signed that bill into law however, County Council has the option to ban the placement of those terminals, an option they will be looking into. County Council received a letter obtained by JET 24 from State Representative Pt Harkins, urging council to use the “host county option” on the bill.
The bill would allow up to five video gaming terminals, or VGT’s in certain truck stop establishments to help with revenue for the state budget. Chairman Jay Breneman says they were already looking into banning the VGT’s before receiving the letter. He says the major concern is how these VGT’s could take away from gambling at Presque Isle Downs and Casino.
Breneman tells us, “When people go there and they wager money on various games, that money comes right back around into the community. With these terminals in truck stops, the money goes somewhere else. Also, it would likely lessen the number of people who would travel all the way to the casino.”
Breneman says when the gaming laws went into effect more than a decade ago, the desire was to keep gambling options as few as possible. “Just having these devices of gambling at such an ease where anybody and everybody can get to, it kind of goes against the grain of what people intended.”
The bill also allows VGT’s at the airport, but County Council does not have the authority to ban them here. That would be up to the airport board to decide, and they say it’s still too early in the process to make a decision. Executive Director George Doughty says, “We really don’t know hardly anything about the proposal… When we learn more, we’ll pass it on to the board and they can consider it.”
Doughty says the concerns at this point are the space the machines would take up and he says their space is limited. Also, just how much revenue they would receive will factor in their decision-making process.
Breneman tells us the issue will be on the December 12th meeting agenda. As of now, there is enough support to ban the VGT’s in truck stops. The deadline for council to make the decision is December 29th.