Pennsylvania iLottery and Casino Debate Continues in Court

The future of the Pennsylvania Lottery is at risk due to a lawsuit currently being considered in the state. Five days of testimony recently took place regarding an argument between casino operators and the lottery. The casinos feel that many of the games that online lottery provides are like the slot machines offered by casino operators. The instant lottery games are either considered simulations of slot games or actual slot games, depending on who you ask. The outcome of this case will either hurt or harm the lottery, which has officials worried about whether or not revenues will continue to pour in from the operations.

What’s the Deal?

Back in 2017, the state passed Act 42. This measure allowed for online lottery games to be authorized in the state along with online gaming. Since that time, both lottery games have launched along with online casino sites. Soon after launching, casino operators began to complain, stating that the offerings from the iLottery resembled their slot machines too much and they have exclusive rights to offer such games.

In August 2018, the casinos in the state filed a lawsuit trying to stop the lottery from providing the similar games. Greenwood Gaming is named in the suit, the parent company of Parx Casino. Six additional casinos signed on as plaintiffs in the suit.

Early on, the court denied a request by the casinos to stop the lottery from offering such games, at least while the case is ongoing. Because the case is still under review, the lottery continues to offer the instant games.

The Arguments

Over the past few days, arguments were presented from both sides of the case. For the casinos, attorney’s pointed out the similarities of the instant games and slots offered at online casino sites. They say the instant games use a random number generator, have auto play and other similar controls of slots as well as use a math model spreadsheet that is just like slot machine math.

The casinos feel the games are too similar and the lottery has an unfair advantage as they can provide online gaming to 18 year olds. Online casinos with the same style of games are only open to those who are 21 years of age or older.

For the lottery, the argument is that they feel the casinos do not understand the lottery products. The lottery says that there is an overlap between the lottery and the casino industry but this does not mean that there is a simulation. The features of the lottery online games are rooted in traditional lottery products. The attorney for the lottery gave examples as to how far back the features go.

In closing arguments, the attorney representing the lottery said that casinos are concerned about eliminating the competition. They cannot get rid of each other, so they go after the lottery program.

The judge in the case has now asked both sides to provide written findings of fact and conclusion based on the law. The filings need to be made within 30 days of receiving the transcripts of the hearings.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.