Despite complaints from the Keystone State’s casinos, the state’s iLottery has managed to move past all its obstacles while at the same time earning a whopping $21.6 million in its first month of operation. According to the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania’s iLottery program garnered the said amount between the time it went live on June 4 and June 30. During this period, the iLottery is also reported to have distributed prizes worth a mind-boggling $18.7 million and signed close to 45,000 players.
“PA iLottery games are a fun, new way to play and win from home or while on the go. iLottery is a big part of our effort to meet our players where they already are while generating new funds to benefit older Pennsylvanians,” said Department of Revenue Communications Director, Jeffrey Johnson.
Mr. Johnson believes that the iLottery program has all the right qualities and will, therefore, be a major asset to both state coffers and government programs.
While the new iLottery program is certainly a huge contributor to the state’s financial bottom line, not everyone in the state is too happy about it. This became much clearer after the state’s casinos protested against the iLottery program arguing that it had violated Pennsylvania state laws that give the casinos exclusive rights to offer slot and casino-style games – apparently, the iLottery website has been promoting over a dozen slot games.
“Overall, the games essentially have the same backbone as a slot machine; an outcome that is determined by a random number generator with animated graphics and computer operations used to provide a visual depiction of that outcome,” Mark Stewart, a lawyer representing the 12 casinos, wrote in a letter that was addressed to Daniel Hassel, the State Revenue Secretary. “In virtually every way imaginable, lottery’s iLottery program mimics a casino operation’s simulated casino-style games.”
PennLive reported that, initially, the state’s officials were rather reluctant when it came to taking up the legal challenge. The state’s gaming expansion laws that were introduced in October 2017 require the state-run lottery, which is responsible for the iLottery, to give a portion of its proceeds to programs that help senior citizens. At the time when the gambling expansion law was being signed into law, the state’s lawmakers argued that the state-run lottery also needed to be able to offer online games so that it would compete well with the state’s casinos and therefore continue funding such programs as the senior citizen help program.
Mark Stewart’s letter apparently struck the right nerves as after it was sent, it was confirmed that the iLottery had effectively stopped using the terms “casino-style” and “slot-style” in its advertising and promotional material. Even so, the iLottery’s operations did not take a hit and the numbers are definitely proof of this.