A coalition of seven casinos in Pennsylvania have been fighting the state lottery regarding their online gambling games. After launching last year, a legal fight was started by the casinos as they felt the games offered online via the Lottery were too similar to online slot games they would be offering in the future. They felt the games were unfair to their upcoming industry and would cause them significant financial losses. The coalition has now seen a negative ruling from a judge in the case, causing a setback with their plight to see the games no longer offered online.
A Little Backstory
As 2017 was coming to an end, Pennsylvania lawmakers decided to pass a gaming package that would expand gambling in the state in several ways. One portion of the bill was dedicated to online lottery gaming. The Pennsylvania Lottery launched online games in May of last year, providing games via desktop or application. Casinos quickly took offense to the games as they stated the titles were similar to online slots and would be bad for their online gaming business once launched.
The casinos wanted to see the games stopped and started a legal battle in the hopes of being heard. During a recent court appearance, the coalition received an answer they did not want to hear. Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer denied an injunction request by the group. The judge said the coalition had not established that they would suffer a certain loss due to the online lottery games.
In the state, there are thirteen casino operators. Only seven decided to ban together in this coalition and file a lawsuit against the games back in May. The casinos are arguing that the lottery games, which are similar to online slots, are open to players who are 18 years of age. For online casino gaming, players have to be 21 to take part.
The group has tried to point out that the games are illegal and that the lottery is promoting casino-style gambling to teenagers. They has also tried to show that the state will be at a loss based on tax collections that would be used for property relief and local improvement projects that are completed via tax dollars from gaming.
Judge Cohn Jubelirer did state in court that she does feel many of the games are similar to online and land-based slot games, the land-based casinos had not ‘fully and completely’ established a right to relief. The decision by the judge does not close the case but it does provide a win for the Lottery side. The games are safe for now and will not have to be shut down.
The Lottery had expected to generate as much as $31 million from its new online games, but failed to reach this number. Despite a lower turnaround, the Lottery feels they will see success from their games which will help to provide services for senior citizens as this is the group that the Lottery supports.
For now, the coalition of casinos will have to continue their plight. The judge placed a deadline of August 30th to provide relevant evidence in the case, along with any reports from experts or to file pre-trial motions.