Senate Approves Martin and Aument’s Local Opt-out for Video Gaming Terminals in Lancaster County

HARRISBURG – Lancaster County municipalities would have the option to prohibit video gaming terminals (VGTs) at local truck stops as part of a bill approved by the Senate today.

Senate Bill 321, sponsored by Senators Scott Martin (R-13) and Ryan Aument (R-36), would give each municipality in Lancaster County a 60-day window to decline VGTs at truck stops within its borders by passing a simple resolution. Municipalities would have the authority to opt-in at a later date through the same process.

“The final authority to decide what if any gambling options to allow into a community should be left to local municipal leaders and the people they represent – not powerful special interests from outside the county,” Aument said. “Lancaster County has fiercely fought back against the idea of establishing new gambling venues here, and it is encouraging to see the Senate stand up for the rights of our local residents.”

“Citizens should have a voice in the gambling debate, which is why we sought to restore the principle of local control,” Martin said. “Gambling does nothing to improve our culture, our values or our economy. In fact, the threat of these machines has already taken money away from local taxpayers as a result of lawsuits pertaining to VGTs. This ugly situation only benefits those who profit from gambling, not the people of Lancaster County.”

VGTs were originally authorized as part of a 2017 law that provided a massive expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania, including the creation of 10 new mini-casino licenses and a variety of online gambling options. The law gave each municipality the power to opt-out of allowing a mini-casino from being built within its jurisdiction, but municipalities were not given the same option with regards to VGTs.

Since 2017, more than 1,000 municipalities across the Commonwealth have adopted resolutions to prohibit the construction of a new casino within its borders – including all 60 municipalities in Lancaster County.

The legislation authored by Martin and Aument would only apply to Lancaster County, as well as any other county that meets certain population and other requirements. Counties that host a casino were given the opportunity to opt-out as part of the original 2017 law that authorized VGTs.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT:   Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)

Ryan Boop (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)

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