PA Casinos Express Opposition to State's New iLottery ProgramPublished July 2, 2018 by Elana K
Pennsylvania's land-based casinos are not happy with the state's new iLottery games that came out in May; in fact, 12 of Pennsylvania’s casino operators are currently urging the governor to suspend the state's iLottery program.
When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a gambling expansion bill in October 2017, he not only made it legal for land-based casinos to apply for online gambling licenses, but he also made it legal for the state lottery to offer its own brand of internet games. Now, the state’s land-based casinos are not happy with the new iLottery games that came out in May; in fact, 12 of Pennsylvania’s casino operators are currently urging the governor to suspend the state's iLottery program.
Why the Opposition?
Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos are drawing on the language of the original expansion bill, which includes the clause that the state lottery cannot offer “games which simulate casino-style lottery games.” Pennsylvania’s casinos claim that the state’s iLottery games do just that (even though Pennsylvania online casinos don’t actually exist yet).
Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos have proposed a joint-venture with the with the PA Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery, to create an online lottery program that doesn’t violate the expansion bill or the casinos’ rights. Casino operators have also said that if they don’t hear back from the governor’s office by July 3, they will be forced take further legal action.
The Current Gambling Climate in Pennsylvania
The complaint from Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos comes following a period of stagnation; May revenue remained flat and additionally, the casinos are facing a decision about whether to apply for an online gambling license or not. The 90-day window to apply for the $10 million comprehensive license is coming to a close, and so far, no casinos have applied yet.
The speculation is that the state’s casinos are waiting for the next window, during which individual slots, poker, and table game licenses will be sold for $4 million apiece. Or, casinos are put off by Pennsylvania’s high tax rate and are biding their time to see if the venture will succeed at all.
However, the casinos’ opposition to the state’s iLottery program give some hope that they do indeed intend to enter the online gambling ring; when that will happen, though, they have not yet revealed.