Pennsylvania Casinos Pursue Action Against Lottery as iGaming Draws Near
Next month, the state of Pennsylvania is set to finally launch their online casino gaming sites. Since 2017, players have been patiently waiting to see gaming become available online in the state. As the casinos prepare for online gaming, many have asked the Commonwealth Court to stop the lottery from offering similarly styled games. The worry is that the lottery’s games will take away from the potential sales of the online casino games because they are similar, and the casino operators paid a pretty penny to offer iGaming.
A group of casinos in the state has requested an injunction to stop the lottery games from being offered. If the injunction is approved, the lottery will have to stop providing certain games. While the population of the state is quite large at 13 million people and a healthy tourism industry, the gambling industry is already matured. For online casino gaming to be successful, the casinos feel that the lottery needs to stop offering certain games.
The lawsuit by the casinos was originally filed last year. May 2018 was when the lottery began offering online games and just three months later, the lottery launched Xpress Sports, a simulated form of sports betting. the casinos filed their suit right after the two launches.
Casinos included in the lawsuit are The Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel, Penn National Race Course’s Hollywood Casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino, Valley Forge Casino, Stadium Casino and the Mohegan Sun Pocono.
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When looking at other states in the US that offer online casino gaming, the main revenue producer is slots. New Jersey is a prime example as to how successful an online gambling industry can be. In Pennsylvania new online gambling operators are worried that they will not reach revenue potential due to the lottery’s games that are similar to slots.
In the lawsuit, it states that the lottery is running their own version of online slot games, just like the casinos will be offering. The lottery pays out an average of 85% of the betting handle from the games the casinos allege are similar. This is a percentage that players who visit casinos are used to.
The casinos are also accusing the lottery of offering the games at price points similar to traditional slot game play. The lottery also has a leg up on the online casino operators as players have to be just 18 to take part while online casino gaming has a 21 or older age requirement.
Spokesperson for the casino coalition David La Torre commented last year on the matter by stating: “The actions of the Pennsylvania Lottery are illegal. To make matters even worse, the agency is promoting casino-style gambling to teenagers. Pennsylvania casinos must follow very stringent regulations on underage gaming or face millions of dollars in fines. Meanwhile, the Lottery is openly violating the law and marketing these games to anyone as young as 18. Not to mention, any loss in casino revenue will hurt Pennsylvania’s tax collection for property tax relief and local improvement projects funded by gaming tax dollars.”
As the online casino sites prepare to launch, they are ramping up efforts to see the lottery stop offering such games. It will certainly be interesting to see if the casinos are successful or if they have to launch while the lottery continues to offer such gaming options.