Lawmakers propose break on video poker rules

A pair of lawmakers want the Legislature to modify rules limiting video poker machines inside truck stops to allow businesses to keep machines when roadwork hurts fuel sales.

Under current law, licensed truck stops can have 25 video poker machines temporarily during startup, with the final number determined by future fuel sales.

The formula is based on average monthly fuel sales. For example, a truck stop that sells 100,000 gallons of fuel, including 40,000 gallons of diesel, can have up to 50 video poker machines.

State Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, said construction of the Prospect Street bridge in Terrebonne Parish slowed commerce for nearby businesses.

The truck stops in that area saw a drop in the volume of fuel they were selling, which is connected to the number of machines they can have,” Brown said. “That bridge was out for a long time while it was being replaced, and it all lasted much longer than anticipated.”

Senate Bill 141 would offer relief to businesses in that area and set standards to avoid similar future problems, Brown said. The legislation allows the temporary machines to stay in place for reasons of “force majeure,” or actions that are unavoidable, including road work and government construction projects that directly affect fuel sales.

His SB141 likewise stipulates that a truck stop would have to be licensed for at least one year, meeting all fuel requirements during that year, to take advantage of the exemption.

In doing so, the licensed truck stop would still be able to operate the same number of machines it had during the year before its fuel sales interruption.

Brown said he was alerted to the issue by a group of video poker distributors who operate in Terrebonne Parish but could not recall the businesses involved.

State Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna, has also introduced House Bill 146, which has the same intent as Brown’s bill.