PA Casinos Await Judge’s Decision On iLottery Games

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Will at least one Pennsylvania-sanctioned online casino launch on July 15? State regulators announced that date in mid-April, and there’s been little indication since about whether it will hold true.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hold its regularly scheduled hearing on July 10 in Harrisburg, and it is possible that regulators will provide an update on the launch date.

The state already has three active online/mobile sports betting platforms, so regulators have already seen that geolocation technology, for example, is working.

The state passed a new law in late-2017 to authorize the regulation of online casinos/sportsbooks. It’s been a slow process to roll out the new offerings.

The Pennsylvania Lottery was also authorized to offer online gambling under that same 2017 law, and it began offering its form of online gambling in mid-2018. What the lottery ended up launching didn’t sit well with many of the state’s casino operators, and they filed a lawsuit last year in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court over some of the games that they argue are too similar to traditional online slots.

The casino group is comprised of:

  • Parx Casino
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
  • The Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel
  • Stadium Casino
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono

Status of the lawsuit

The casinos recently asked the Commonwealth Court for an injunction against the online lottery games in question (Volcano Eruption Reveal, Robin Hood, Super Gems, Big Foot, and Monster Wins), and a hearing was held last week on the request. The judge has until July 15 to make a decision, coalition spokesperson David La Torre told PennBets.

The casinos argue that the lottery is offering games that are against the 2017 law.

“Their decision to illegally compete with casinos was helped by getting a sizable head start,” La Torre said. “Both provisions [of the 2017 legislation]became effective Jan. 1, 2018. They launched May 22 of that year. It will be July 15, 2019 before [online]casinos are allowed to launch.”

It doesn’t appear that the judge’s decision will have an impact on when the online casinos launch.

The PA Lottery’s online offerings are expected to generate about $30 mm this fiscal year, according to a report from PennLive. In New Jersey, online casino gambling generated nearly $180 mm in revenue through the first five months of this year. The PA Lottery’s internet games could take a sizeable chunk out of the traditional online casino market potential in the Keystone State.

The PA Lottery can by played by those 18+, while the online casinos require a gambler to be at least 21 years of age. This particularly has irked the casinos.

Pennsylvania casinos were charged $10 mm for a license to offer non-sports online gambling.

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Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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