PHOTO GALLERY: Inside Rutter's Video Gaming Rooms
YORK, Pa. — A video gaming terminal (VGT) room is an amenity not commonly associated with convenience stores. However, Rutter’s hopes to change that perception.
The York-based retailer debuted its first VGT room in summer 2019 and expected to have 12 of its Pennsylvania convenience stores featuring VGT rooms by the end of the year. The chain operates roughly 75 c-stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.
In October 2017, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Act 42, which legalized video gaming terminals and expanded gambling statewide. The state legalized internet gambling and fantasy sports betting, and allowed for 10 new mini-casinos to be built around the state. Video gaming terminals were made allowed at certain “truck stop establishments.”
According to the law, qualifying truck stop establishments must:
- Have diesel islands to fuel commercial motor vehicles;
- Have sold or have projections to sell an average of 50,000 gallons or more of diesel or biodiesel fuel each month for 12 months;
- Have at least 20 parking spaces dedicated to commercial motor vehicles;
- Have a convenience store;
- Be situated on a parcel of land not less than 3 acres owned by the establishment; and
- Not be located on any property owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Given these parameters, Rutter’s started considering the appeal of VGTs in its strategic plan. The retailer’s model calls for larger stores, heavy foodservice, and larger lot sizes. In addition, Rutter’s thought VGTs would be a way to reach new and existing customers.
“Since we have been building larger sites with diesel fueling and larger lots, it was an easy fit, working through the ROI [return on investment] and increased traffic flow that it would bring to the site,” Rutter’s Vice President of Marketing Robert Perkins told Convenience Store News.
Rutter’s executives visited locations in Illinois where VGTs have been legal since 2012. And after a slow process — mostly driven by the state and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board — Rutter’s introduced the first of its VGT rooms at one of its York, Pa., stores in August. The room was executed in conjunction with Marquee by Penn, a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming Inc.
Retrofitted into the 6,675-square-foot store at 2125 Susquehanna Trail in York, the VGT room measures approximately 220 square feet. By law, it fits the maximum five gaming terminals and is restricted to customers aged 21 and above. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“[We are] enhancing the customer experience for the existing customer that we service for lottery now with a different way of ‘gaming,’ while also attracting new customers,” said Perkins.
To communicate the availability of its VGT rooms, Rutter’s is utilizing exterior signage and social media vehicles. The retailer is also partnering with Penn National Gaming, which operates 43 casinos and racetracks across Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
While promotional activity is regulated by law as to what Rutter’s can and cannot do, the retailer is working on potential cross-promotions between its c-stores and VGT rooms. In the meantime, customers can enjoy its food and beverages while gaming.