Seven casinos in Pennsylvania are taking the Pennsylvania Lottery to court.
Earlier this week, the group of casinos filed suit in Commonwealth Court. It alleges some of Pennsylvania Lottery’s online lottery games infringe on their exclusive rights over casino-style games.
The casinos involved in filing the suit are:
- 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
Where Pennsylvania lottery and casino games intersect
The games in question have a similar look and feel to some of the slot machines offered at Pennsylvania casinos. The casinos say these games cross the line into their territory and are asking for an injunction to prevent play.
The iLottery games the lawsuit mentions by name are:
- Volcano Eruption Reveal
- Robin Hood
- Super Gems
- Big Foot
- Monster Wins
It’s not just the “look and feel” with which the casinos are taking issue. There are also several characteristics that tend to mimic casino play.
Players must set a “bet,” and there are multiple denominations from which to choose. The games include result reveals similar to casino games, such as spinning wheels and cascading tiles.
Then there is how the Lottery markets the games to players. There are loyalty programs, all similar to advertisements found at the casinos.
According to the casinos, these characteristics violate the state’s gaming laws which prevent the state from offering casino-style lottery games.
One other issue brought forth in the suit is the minimum age of Lottery players. A player must be 18 years old to play the Lottery. The lawsuit contends the games are circumventing the state law requiring a player to be 21 years old to play casino games.
It’s not just casino-style games
The lawsuit is not the first time the casinos took the Lottery to task over infringing on its territory. In May, all 13 of Pennsylvania’s casinos asked Gov. Tom Wolf to shut down the iLottery games.
The letter did result in some changes as to how the Lottery marketed its games. Obviously, it was not enough.
The lawsuit comes at a time when Pennsylvania is about to launch online sports betting and gaming. As part of the iLottery, the Pennsylvania Lottery recently introduced Xpress Sports.
Xpress Sports games closely resemble sports betting. Xpress Football and Xpress Car Racing are part video game, slot machine, and sports betting.
Players place bets on simulated outcomes are schedule sporting events. Every five minutes, random drawings determine the outcomes. A complete schedule of events is on the Pennsylvania Lottery website, much like a schedule on a sports team’s site.
What the casinos and the Lottery are saying
With a portfolio of games similar to what the casinos plan to offer later this year, the casinos are simply out to protect their interests.
The spokesman for the casinos, David La Torre, talked about the filing in a press release:
“The actions of the Pennsylvania Lottery are illegal. To make matters even worse, the agency is promoting casino-style gambling to teenagers. Pennsylvania casinos must follow very stringent regulations on underage gaming or face millions of dollars in fines.
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Meanwhile, the Lottery is openly violating the law and marketing these games to anyone as young as 18. Not to mention, any loss in casino revenue will hurt Pennsylvania’s tax collection for property tax relief and local improvement projects funded by gaming tax dollars.”
Pennsylvania Lottery spokesman Gary Miller spoke about the legality of iLottery games to Penn Live:
“It is important to note that Act 42 authorized the Lottery’s new games, which are part of an effort to continue delivering to our customers games that they want and where they want while generating the additional funds to stabilize the Lottery fund and provide vital services to older Pennsylvanians.”
The casinos don’t doubt customers want the games. They argue that customers should be getting those games from the casinos, not the Lottery.
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The casinos are asking for nothing less than a permanent ban of iLottery games. Now, it’s in the Court’s hands.