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Video gaming terminals approved for Rutter’s on Vine Street, could be in place by spring

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/11/20

Five video gaming terminals might be coming to the Rutter’s store on Vine Street.

The Londonderry Township Zoning Hearing Board voted 3-2 Monday to grant a special exception to allow video …

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Video gaming terminals approved for Rutter’s on Vine Street, could be in place by spring

Posted

Five video gaming terminals might be coming to the Rutter’s store on Vine Street.

The Londonderry Township Zoning Hearing Board voted 3-2 Monday to grant a special exception to allow video gaming terminals to be placed at the store and allow the store to do necessary remodeling.

Board members Kevin Hummert, Joe Sheehan and Edward Kozicki voted yes. Jay Kopp and Gary Carlson voted no.

Rutter’s is hoping to open its video gaming terminals in the spring, according to the company’s attorney, Christopher Reed.

Township solicitor Jim Diamond said Rutter’s fits the definition of a “truck stop establishment,” which allows it to have VGTs.

Township zoning and code officer Jeff Burkhart told the Press & Journal that Rutter’s had asked if VGTs were specifically addressed in township statutes, and he said no. Rutter’s then submitted an application, he said.

During the hearing, board members asked a number of questions regarding the details of the security of the video gaming terminal room and whether Rutter’s would add more terminals if the state allows it. Reed said the company would be open to it.

Sheehan asked Burkhart whether the township has heard rumors of Love’s, which is nearby on Vine Street, asking for terminals, and Burkhart said he hadn’t heard anything and Love’s has not approached the township. 

Diamond and Reed said a video gaming terminal is different from a “skill game.” Middletown Borough Council recently considered a ban on such skill games, but then decided against it after opposition from businesses and nonprofit groups in town that benefit from the devices.

VGTs have a randomly generated outcome. The “skill” involved in skill games is that the player is presented with a puzzle game offering multiple combinations, from which the player must choose the right one to win money.

According to Rutter’s attorney Sarah Dotzel, Rutter’s is able to collect 15 percent of revenue generated from video gaming terminals. Dotzel said the rest will go to the state or the terminal operator.

According to Reed, video gaming terminals were authorized by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017.

According to information from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, a VGT is similar to a slot machine, and it only accepts cash.

The maximum bet is $5 with a maximum payout of $1,000, and any winnings are paid through a redemption machine.

Reed said the law allows for placement of up to five terminals at qualifying locations.

According to the control board, a VGT can be located only in truck stops that meet specific criteria, including being equipped with diesel islands for commercial vehicles. It must have sold an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel or biodiesel every month for the past 12 months and is projected to do the same, have at least 20 parking spots for commercial vehicles, have a convenience store, be a Pennsylvania Lottery sales agent, and be located on not less than 3 acres of land.

The Londonderry site has already received conditional licensure from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which Reed said means it met all of the requirements in order to receive a gaming license to operate VGTs.

“The license has not been issued because the room is not ready to operate. The store cannot currently host video gaming terminals. The license is not issued until after the gaming control board has come on site, done its final inspections and gives the green light for the games to be turned on,” Reed said.

Rutter’s has 10 truck stops with video gaming terminals, including in Hamburg, York, Wrightsville, Duncansville, Mifflintown, York Springs and New Cumberland, according to a Pennsylvania Control Board file, and there were 21 video gaming terminals at truck stops as of Jan. 8.

Reed said by the end of the month, Rutter’s will have 13 locations, including one in Duncannon.

The gaming room would be in the front, so employees at the counter could see it, Reed said. Although not required, Reed said there will be a door to the room  to prevent minors from entering because only people 21 and older are permitted inside.

There will be cameras, and Reed said the feed will go to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and Penn National Casino.

He said the Londonderry store also plans to expand its freezer and dining area.

Regulations require a licensed gaming employee be on site while the room is open. The employee will undergo the same FBI background check, licensing and training as a casino employee, Reed said.

The intent is for the room to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Reed said.