Pennsylvania is the seventh state to have entered iLottery market to date -Pennsylvania casinos ask Wolf Administration to suspend iLottery games

Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds benefit the state's senior citizens. Since the very first ticket was sold in 1972, the Lottery has generated nearly $28 billion to benefit older Pennsylvanians.   

Pennsylvania's 13 casino operators have asked the Wolf Administration to suspend the state's new online lottery games, asserting they are a direct and illegal incursion into their own, yet-to-launch, on-line games.

The casinos want the state Department of Revenue, which oversees the Pennsylvania Lottery, to work collaboratively with them to develop "a lawful iLottery program."

But without a positive response from the state by July 3, the casino group said, it is reserving the right to take further legal action.

Wolf Administration officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the letter, which was delivered Wednesday afternoon to Revenue Secretary C. Daniel Hassell and obtained by PennLive.

The issue arises, however, because the state - in the same 2017 law - is opening the door this summer to online games offered through the licensed casinos, at the cost of a $10 million licensing fee.

To date, none of Pennsylvania's 13 licensees have applied to enter the online market. 

iLottery, signed off on by Gov. Tom Wolf and the legislature in the massive 2017 gambling expansion law, offers 11 game titles available for play on computers, tablets or mobile devices.

That law, the casinos' letter points out, contains language barring the Lottery from offering "games which simulate casino-style lottery games, specifically including roulette, poker, slot machines or black jack."

Many of the iLottery games, the casinos assert, use the same "backbone" as the slot machines they feature on their gaming floors: "An outcome that is determined by a random number generator with animated graphics and computer operations used to provide a visual depiction of that outcome."

Games are offered in penny or dime denominations that are typical for casinos but not any other Lottery products, and many even require the player to set bets and take advantage of prize multipliers.

Some even use the same names and themes of popular slots games.

What's more, the letter contends that the Lottery has even admitted its violation in marketing materials that promote "slot-style" and casino-style" games.

The casinos are also taking umbrage at the fact that the new Lottery games are available to 18-year-olds, while their market is restricted to those ages 21 and up.

"If these same individuals tried to play the same games at our casinos... the players would be prosecuted and placed on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's exclusion list, while we would face tens of thousands of dollars in  PGCB-imposed fines."

The iLottery games launched in late May.

The administration insisted last year on the on-line expansion for the lottery as a way for it to stay on an even competitive footing as other gambling options - new casinos, sports betting, online games - exploded all around it.

Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds benefit the state's senior citizens.

The casino group noted that its representatives had asked Lottery officials for a demonstration of their new games before their public launch; that request was apparently refused.

Pennsylvania is the seventh state to have entered the so-called iLottery market to date.

https://www.pennlive.com/news/2018/06/pennsylvania_casinos_ask_wolf.html