The new Pennsylvania iLottery has hit the market with a bang, but Pennsylvania’s land-based casino operators will not be celebrating the news. Even as PA iLottery rings in a hugely successful first month, land-based casino operators are urging the state to put an end to the types of games currently offered at PAiLottery.com.
In just its first month of operation, PAiLottery.com topped $21.6 million in sales. The Pennsylvania online lottery launched on June 4th with a collection of just 11 scratch-off style games, but that was more than enough to convince 45,000 people to sign up for accounts and earn $18.7 million in prizes.
It is particularly impressive that PA iLottery was able to bring in so much revenue despite offering such a small collection of similarly-styled games. Just eleven games were available for most of the first month, but that was still enough to convince Pennsylvanians to wager millions of dollars online.
The Michigan online lottery saw similar success early on and is still going strong today. Within five months of its August 2014 launch, the Michigan online lottery had amassed a customer base of 86,000 people and was selling $2 million worth of online games every week.
PA iLottery has since expanded its collection of games by two, bringing the total number of games to 13. A massive gaming bill signed into law last year gives the PA lottery plenty of room to expand its lineup, so look forward to additional games and new game-types to be added over coming months.
The latest addition to the PA iLottery lineup is a bingo-style game called Ballroom Bingo. In this game, players are given a bingo card, choose an amount to play and then watch as 35 out of a possible 75 bingo balls are drawn at random. Payouts are awarded for matching patterns such a solid line, four corners, the letter X, the letter Z and a full-board blackout for the top prize.
Pennsylvania Casinos Still Not Happy
Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos have not taken kindly to what they believe is PA iLottery encroaching on their turf. Within days of PAiLottery.com going live, the state’s thirteen land-based operators sent a letter to the Wolf administration demanding that the state shut down Pennsylvania’s instant win games.
In that letter, the Pennsylvania casino operators point to text in the 2017 gaming expansion law that prohibits the lottery from offering “games which simulate casino-style lottery games, specifically including roulette, poker, slot machines or blackjack.”
The casino operators argue that the games found on PAiLottery.com closely resemble slot machines in terms of play style, graphics, underlying technology and even the fact that players are required to place a “bet” at the beginning of each round. Even worse, the casino operators note that the Pennsylvania Lottery even markets its games as being “slot style” and “casino style.”
Furthermore, lottery operators do not like the fact that Pennsylvania’s online lottery games are open to customers 18 and older while games run by the casinos are restricted to customers 21 and older. And as noted by CalvinAyre.com, PA iLottery games are not subject to the state’s extreme 54% tax rate.
Pennsylvania’s casino operators won a small and ultimately meaningless victory earlier this month when the Department of Revenue conceded it will order the lottery to stop marketing its games as “slot-style” or “casino-style.” Aside from that small concession, PA iLottery will continue to operate as normal.