A coalition of Pennsylvania casinos today filed suit in Commonwealth Court seeking an injunction to stop the Pennsylvania Lottery from providing illegal, simulated casino-style online games. No one under the age of 21 is permitted on the gaming floor of a Pennsylvania casino, but lottery games that mimic the same exact slot machines that casinos offer are currently available online to Pennsylvanians as young as 18.
In May, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery system, launched “iLottery,” offering games online and on mobile devices. Despite state law (Act 42 of 2017) making it illegal for the Pennsylvania Lottery to offer and use casino-style games, it launched a series of games that imitate the look, sound and feel of slot machines.
Several games — Volcano Eruption Reveal, Robin Hood, Super Gems, Big Foot and Monster Wins — have the same titles and/or themes as slot machines offered on Pennsylvania casino floors. Unlike casino gaming, these illegal casino-style lottery games give the illusion that the player can make decisions, but the winners are predetermined.
“The actions of the Pennsylvania Lottery are illegal,” said coalition spokesperson David La Torre. “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. 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 casinos have been economic engines for the commonwealth, investing over $5 billion, creating more than 18,000 jobs, and spending $230 million annually for goods and services from local businesses. An unqualified boon for Pennsylvania and taxpayers, slot machines in 2016-17 alone contributed $2.3 billion in slots tax revenue and an additional $132 million in local share funding for host communities.
Members of the coalition include: 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, and Mohegan Sun Pocono.