Recent Las Vegas Stratosphere casino buyer Golden Entertainment is now considering options across the country in Pennsylvania. Under the auspices of its Golden Route distributed gaming division, the operator is ready to jump into the newly expanded gambling scene in the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania expanded gambling

Truck stop, restaurant, and soon, slot machine playstop. Golden Entertainment’s Golden Route division is ready to enter Pennsylvania’s expanded gambling market to operate the terminals. (Image: Pilot Flying J)

The Keystone State’s expanded gambling bill, signed into law in late October by Governor Tom Wolf (D) calls for the creation of up to 10 satellite casinos, legalized online gambling and daily fantasy sports, lays the framework for sports betting, allows airport terminals to build gaming lounges, and adds truck stops as another opportunity to house slot machines. It’s the latter that has Golden Route’s attention.

During a conference call discussing third quarter earnings, Golden Entertainment CEO Blake Sartini was asked whether his company sees Pennsylvania’s swelling gaming industry as an opportunity to expand.

“It’s an opportunity. We’re excited that distributed is now part of the discussion when it comes to gaming expansion,” Sartini noted.

Golden Opportunities

Golden Route Operations, one of the largest distributed gaming operators in the US, manages gaming devices in approximately 980 locations in Nevada and Montana.

Golden Route is wasting no time in telling Pennsylvania truck stops that it’s ready for their business. On its website, the company notes it’s entered into an operating agreement with Apple Vending, a video arcade equipment porvider, to distribute gaming terminals across the Keystone State.

Located north of Philadelphia, Apple Vending says it’s been providing coin-operated entertainment machines to businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware for over 50 years. Golden Entertainment will be able to supply Apple with gambling terminals, who will then maintain their operations.

Pennsylvania’s expanded gambling law mandates that truck stops sell at least 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel each month to qualify for the gambling machines. The facilities must also have at least 20 commercial vehicle parking spaces, a convenience store, and create a designated gaming area where up to five terminals could be placed.

Revenues will be split between the state, licensees, terminal operators, and host counties and municipalities. Truck stops will pay a license fee of $250 per slot machine per year to the state.

Building the Brand

Golden Entertainment became a Las Vegas Strip player when it came to terms on acquiring the Stratosphere last June from American Casino and Entertainment. The $850 million deal gave Golden Las Vegas’ tallest structure and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, plus Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and Boulder, two casinos focused on the local demographic.

Golden Entertainment operates as three divisions. Golden Casino Group owns and manages regional casinos in Nevada, plus one in Maryland.  Golden is also the parent company to PT’s Entertainment Group, which owns 55 taverns across Nevada. Golden Route is the third division.

The operator’s business dealings are leading to record earnings in 2017. That trend continued in the third quarter, with Sartini saying the corporation made a profit of $8.6 million on revenues of $108.3 million. That translates to 36 cents a share for investors.

Golden Entertainment’s stock price soared on that news.