A while back, a coalition of seven casinos in Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the Pennsylvania Lottery from offerings online casino-style games. Last Friday, the casinos were dealt a huge blow when a Commonwealth Court chose to side with the lottery.
The Pennsylvania Lottery officially launched its online lottery product in May 2018 as part of a sweeping gambling overhaul that was authorized by the state’s lawmakers and governor back in October 2017. This online lottery product has since been available to customers on the lottery’s official website and the games can be played on both desktop and mobile.
What the Lawsuit Was About
Needless to say, the launch of the online lottery product did not amuse a number of casino operators in the state. According to these casinos, these iLottery games were way too similar to the casino-style games like online slots. To show their displeasure, in May, a total of seven of the state’s 13 licensed casinos joined forces to file a lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, the casinos argued that the Pennsylvania Lottery not only offered “illegal, simulated casino-style online games” some of which were promoted to consumers who were as young as 18 years old. In comparison, the casino operators who are set to go live with their online products are only allowed to cater to players who are 21 years or older. In addition to that, the lawsuit further expressed concerns that the online lottery games could result in the casino operators losing revenue when they start their own online gambling operations.
“…any loss in casino revenue will hurt Pennsylvania’s tax collection for property tax relief and local improvement projects funded by gaming tax dollars,” reads a section of the lawsuit.
According to Judge Cohn Jubelirer, even though there were “striking similarities” between some of the titles that are being offered by iLottery and traditional online or land-based casino games, the state’s gaming expansion laws was ambiguous enough about the disputed game categories. As such, she did not think that the casinos had established exclusive rights to relief, at least not at the moment.
Still, while the lottery’s online gaming products are safe for now, Judge Cohn’s decision to deny the casinos’ injunction does not close the case. That said, if the casinos decide to continue pursuing the injunction, they will have an August 30 deadline that was set by the judge. Within that period, the casinos will be required to prepare expert reports, further relevant evidence in the case as well as pre-trial motions.