Things are about to get real between seven Pennsylvania casinos and the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Earlier today, seven casinos announced they are suing the Pennsylvania Lottery for offering casino-like games on their website and app. The casino’s defense team released a statement detailing their grievances:
“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. 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.”
The seven casinos involved in the lawsuit 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
Dispute focuses on gambling expansion law
The beef isn’t merely jealousy. It is a legitimate argument based on the text of the state’s 2017 gambling expansion bill, Act 42.
The section in question is in Chapter 5 of the act, lines 22-27. There, legislators provide the definition of iLottery games:
“‘iLottery Game.’ Internet instant games and other lottery products offered through iLottery. The term does not include games that represent physical, internet-based or monitor-based interactive lottery games which simulate casino style lottery games, specifically including poker, roulette, slot machines or blackjack.”
And despite the outcry from the aforementioned statement, which focuses on the fact that the casino-like offerings from the iLottery can be played by 18-year-olds, the base of the argument focuses on the likeness of iLottery games to online casino slots.
Here is an excerpt from the petitioners’ petition for review:
“iLottery offerings are casino-style games that mimic the look, sounds, and feel of slot machines. Several games offered by iLottery — including Volcano Eruption, Reveal, Robin Hood, Super Gems, Slingo, Big Foot and Monster Wins — are the same titles and or themes as games offered on Petitioners’ gaming floors.”
The petition goes on to say that “several of the iLottery games” use “bet” terminology consistent with slot machines. They also feature a “spin function” that resembles slot machines, as well as the capability to play game after game, much like one would play consecutive rounds of a slot machine.
Casinos want casino-style iLottery games shut down
The petitioners concluded their arguments with the following paragraph:
“Petitioners now bring this action for a declaration that the Department’s iLottery offerings violate the clear prohibition of Act 42 and the State Lottery Law … Petitioners request permanent injunctive relief to preclude the Department from offering iLottery games that simulate casino-style games and slot machines.”
Basically, the seven casinos are asking the Department of Revenue to shut down anything resembling casino-style games.
The apparent motives behind the lawsuit two-fold: to protect teenagers from casino-style games and to ward off the competition that the iLottery provides.
Ironically, no PA casinos have launched online gambling. This may be a move to cut away revenue leeches before they launch. After all, the state will tax PA online casinos at a staggering 54 percent. Meanwhile, the Lottery pays no taxes for revenue generated from its iLottery games.