What’s The Deal With Slot Machines And Gas Stations?
Have you ever wondered why there are so many slot machines at gas stations? With so many of them found at UK motorway services and US gas stations, they’re pretty hard to miss.
If you’ve ever been curious about just how many there are in total, then you’re not the only one.
That’s why we decided to collect data on gas stations with slot machines in the US and the UK, then plot them on a map for the world to see.
Check out our infographics below and keep scrolling to discover why spinning the reels and topping up your gas go hand in hand.
Which US States Allow Slot Machines At Gas Stations?
Across the 50 US states, only two — Hawaii and Utah — ban all forms of gambling. Of the remaining 48 states, just 15 have gas stations with slot machines.
These include Illinois, Virginia and New York, which lead the way as the states with the most station slots with 1,894, 1,685 and 1,011 respectively. You won’t be short of slots to play in the center-east and east of the country.
Other states that offer gas station slots include, unsurprisingly, gambling mecca Nevada with 632 official machines at our last count, as well as Georgia, Arizona, South Dakota and even Texas.
Missouri, Illinois’ neighbor, is playing catch-up with just three so far.
Which UK Service Stations Have Slot Machines?
When it comes to the UK there are no state laws governing slot machines, so there’s a much more even distribution.
Although, the majority are clustered within close driving distance of England’s biggest cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds on busy driving routes, for obvious reasons.
As a much smaller place than the US, you’re more likely to come across a slot machine on your travels in the UK.
And the main operators that host the machines include Moto, Roadchef and Welcome Break service stations, which cover major motorway routes such as the M1, M4 and M6 at destinations like Derby, Nottingham, Newcastle, and Swansea.
These three operators have a monopoly, accounting for 73 of around 85 stations with slots, according to our calculations.
Moto edges out its closest competitors with 32 known premises with machines. But there’s a good chance that if you stop at any of these services, you’ll find a gambling game.
Slots Are Big Business
We wanted to know why are there so many slot machines at service stations and truck stops.
Our research reveals that there are a whopping 7,237 slot machines installed across 112,781 surveyed gas stations in the US.
While in the UK you can find service stations with slot machines stretching from Scotland to the very bottom tip of England, past Plymouth.
But what’s behind the surge in popularity of petrol pumps with gambling games to play?
Service stations are places people typically stop at for only a short amount of time. This means stations needs to make maximum money from their customers in the shortest time span possible.
So as well as offering fuel, food and drinks, it makes sense for them to provide quick hits of entertainment with easy ‘games’ for fast fun.
Customers spin the reels, and spend on them, while they wait for friends having a bathroom break or to recharge their batteries before hitting the road. It’s an effective way for roadside services to make money in a short window of time.
It’s easy to get bored while you’re at a gas station, but installing slots may mean these ‘pitstops’ keep customers around for a little longer.
And while you play, you fork out more for snacks and beverages, just like in a casino. And you may even spend your winnings there too.
A Bit Of A Gamble?
While the majority of drivers passing through will play service station slot machines as a quick fix for boredom, and to have fun, there are also those who suffer from gambling addictions.
So gas station slots are controversial, in that they offer another distraction or temptation in a surprising location, away from the bright lights of physical casinos and games arcades where players with problems would expect to find — and stay away from — slot machines.
There have also been reports in the UK of drug dealers using slots, or fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to launder money by converting large amounts of cash into virtual money and then back again, with receipts to prove the currency comes from gambling.
However, the UK has recently introduced curbs on stakes to help tackle this and other slots-related issues.
So, as ever, we say play sensibly, safely and for fun. And remember to have gambling awareness in mind the next time you take a road trip and stop off for some slots action.