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Penn National Partners With Pennsylvania Convenience Chain Rutter’s for VGTs, Sheetz and Wawa Run Empty

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Penn National Gaming is readying to bring video gaming terminals (VGTs) to Rutter's, a Pennsylvania dairy and convenience store chain that is recognized as “the oldest vertically integrated food company in the country.”

Rutter's Pennsylvania gambling casinos

Rutter's in Pennsylvania is ready to bet on video gaming terminals. (Image: Rutter's Farm Stores)

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If approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), Penn National will place VGTs inside some 20 locations that are expected to qualify for the devices. Under the state's 2017 gaming expansion act, truck stops that have a dedicated diesel island for commercial fueling can qualify to house as many as five VGTs, which operate similarly to slot machines.

Rutter's is a proud, Pennsylvania-based company with a storied history,” Rutter's CEO Scott Hartman said in a release. “Penn National shares these same attributes, and we look forward to partnering with them to provide our customers the opportunity to enjoy playing VGTs at a number of our locations throughout Pennsylvania.”

To qualify for the VGTs, the gas stations must sell 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel each month, and have at least 20 parking spaces for commercial vehicles. The facility must additionally have a convenience store, be situated on at least three acres, and be a Pennsylvania Lottery agent.

Big Business?

The gaming expansion came as a result of a standoff between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. With lawmakers unwilling to raise taxes, the next best thing was authorizing satellite casinos, online gambling, sports betting and daily fantasy sports, airport gaming lounges, and truck stop VGTs.

Rutter's and Penn National are the first to strike a deal to bring gaming machines to truck stops across the state. But Pennsylvania has already begun reaping the financial rewards of the 2017 legislation.

Predominantly from licensing fees, Pennsylvania took in more than $385 million last year from expanded gaming. The VGTs won't provide the same upfront boost for government coffers.

VGT manufacturers and suppliers will each pay the PGCB $50,000 to become licensed to do business in the state. Terminal operators will pay $25,000.

Rutter's will be on the hook for a $1,000 per establishment fee, and $1,250 to incorporate five VGTs in a cordoned area staffed by an employee who will be tasked with making sure only those aged 21 and older have access. Other fees apply to license individuals who will be involved with the gaming operations.

The state will take 52 percent of the gross revenue generated by the terminals.

Sheetz, Wawa Left Out

Pennsylvania has been the site of a years-long war, and it's a battle that will never have a definitive ending.

Depending on where one was born and raised increases the odds that he or she is a Pittsburgh Steelers and Sheetz fan, or Philadelphia Eagles and Wawa devotee. It's a convenience store debate so contentious that it's been the subject of countless media articles, and even a documentary.

Headquartered in the south-central city of York, Rutter's has 70 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. Sheetz and Wawa are much larger, combined owning more than 1,300 stores.

However, most of the Sheetz and Wawa stations won't qualify for the video gaming terminals. The majority of their locations do not have dedicated diesel islands, as the two convenience store chains are more focused on the non-commercial driver.

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