A measure to make the Pennsylvania Lottery more accessible has moved a step closer to happening

A measure to make the Pennsylvania Lottery more accessible has moved a step closer to happening.

A bill cleared the state Senate to allow the lottery to go online to help generate revenue.

The Pennsylvania Lottery expects to finish 2016-17 with 2.3 percent less revenue than it generated in the prior year.

 

In an April hearing on the solvency of the lottery, Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget secretary Randy Albright estimated that letting the lottery offer online games would generate $19 million in new revenue for the lottery fund. On the other hand, if the Legislature expanded gambling in other ways without allowing the lottery to go online, it would have an immediate negative impact on the lottery.

The lottery provision is part of a broader gaming expansion that would make Pennsylvania the first state to allow both casinos and the lottery to offer online games. It would also allow the state to regulate fantasy sports games and allow airports in the state to open gambling parlors.

Is it a good idea to put the lottery online?

One of those who opposed the bill was state Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia County.

Gordner said that despite the bill’s provision allowing the lottery to offer online games, he thinks the legislation will create too much competition for gambling dollars.

“If there is further expansion, there are going to be losers,” Gordner said. Those on the wrong side of expansion could be the lottery and the casinos and horse tracks that employ thousands of people in the state, he said.

Republican Michele Brooks, Crawford County's lone state senator, also voted no. The bill passed the Senate 38-12.

 

The Senate gambling bill is an amended version of legislation that had already passed in the House. The altered bill now goes back to the House.

Those in favor of the bill say it's necessary to keep the lottery afloat as consumer tastes change and gambling expansion creates increasing amounts of competition, said Gary Miller, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Lottery.

"We're pleased that Senate recognized the need for the Pennsylvania Lottery to modernize by selling games online, which will help us to meet our players where they already are and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving gaming environment,” Miller said. “Expanding into iLottery games will help us to generate the long-term, sustainable profit growth necessary to maintain the lottery’s funding of vital services for older Pennsylvanians.”

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