Strasburg officials against gambling in convenience stores

As the saying goes, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"

Except now, people don’t need to stay in Vegas to get their gambling fix.

In fact, all they’ll need to do is head to a local convenience store- after a law passed late last year legalized expanded gambling.

And some borough officials say adding these machines to the community is too much of a gamble.

“I believe any time you have gambling, and as it spreads out across the commonwealth, it creates an opportunity for nefarious activity. Activity that is not necessarily conducive to the community that I served for the past 30+ years,” said Chief F. Steven Echternach with the Strasburg Borough Police Department.

The Rutters on Historic Drive in Strasburg is one of 61 truck stops looking to install video gaming terminals, also known as VGTs, but better known as slot machines.

And it's prompting mixed reviews from the people who live here.

“I don’t think it can hurt. I think there’s tax money that comes out of that. It will add a little bit to our community here,” said one Strasburg resident.

“It will be like the lottery? Have you ever been in line for the lottery and you wait forever?” said another.

“You get people with gambling problems possibly coming in. You never know what you’re running into in that way,” said a third.

Chief Echternach says adding the VGTs goes against what he believes are borough values, and worries they will be the final ingredient in a recipe for disaster.

“Then you add the alcohol element, which they added shortly after they came to this community. Then to add the next layer. To add the gambling, i don’t understand. Is it a convenience store/restaurant? Or is it potentially a vice parlor?” said Chief Echternach.

Doug Harbach , communications director with the Gambling Control Board, tells Fox 43 there have been 23 establishments approved so far, and each was properly vetted before getting the go-ahead to add the VGTs.

He says so far, no Rutters locations are approved, but does acknowledge that with the way the law is written, municipalities can’t really stop them from moving forward in the process.

A spokesperson for Rutters declined to comment, but representatives from the company did say during a zoning board meeting Monday night that several security precautions will be put into place, such as a terminal operator and several security cameras.

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