Tic-Tac-No: New Bill Comes After Dubiously Legal Skill Games In PA

A new bill with broad support from both the Lottery and PA police hope to clearly criminalize the legally gray games of skill in Pennsylvania bars.

Newly introduced legislation takes aim at so-called “skill games” available at many Pennsylvania bars and gas stations.

Earlier this month, Sen. Tommy Tomlinson in partnership with the Pennsylvania Lottery officials, the Pennsylvania State Police, and senior groups, introduced new legislation to fight back against illegal “skill games.”

These so-called “skill games” can hardly be classified as requiring much skill. In truth, they are very similar to slot machines with games like “matching color blocks” or completion of a tic-tac-toe board.

The Pennsylvania Lottery estimates that it lost $138 million in sales to “skill games”. In turn, this cuts deep into funding for senior programs.

The nitty-gritty of Senate Bill 710

Should Senate Bill 710 pass, it would be a “criminal offense to knowingly make, assemble, maintain, lease, or sell Games of Skill.”

To explain, the first violation is a first-degree misdemeanor. This would carry a fine of at least $5,000 per violation.

Second offenses are also a first-degree misdemeanor. However, second offenses carry a heftier fine of at least $10,000 per violation upon conviction.

Lastly, third or subsequent offenses are third-degree felonies. Third offenses carry the heaviest fine of all at $15,000 per violation upon conviction.

Tomlinson intends to achieve a powerful deterrent for law enforcement to use against unsanctioned gambling with his proposed legislation.

Proliferation of illegal skill games

Without a doubt, these alleged games of skill have long been a thorn in the side of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

According to the PA Lottery press release, there are approximately 5,050 games of skill machines installed at lottery retailers.

In addition, the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement noted that officers found illegal games of skill in every PA county.

Director of Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, Major Scott T. Miller stated:

We continue to see an increase of suspected illegal gambling devices within licensed liquor establishments, but perhaps even more concerning is the illegal gambling happening in convenience stores, strip malls, and shopping centers.

Because of the proliferation in illegal Games of Skill machines, the next logical step taken by PA lawmakers is to strengthen existing law.

Cutting deep into PA Lottery revenue

Although the PA Lottery upped the number of games offered to lottery retailers, like KenoXpress Sports, and iLottery, many businesses elect to sticking with “skill games.”

In addition, these problematic “skill games” negatively affect PA Lottery’s largest revenue earner, scratch-off sales. Scratch-off sales account for nearly 70 percent of lottery revenue.

For every game of skill machine, PA Lottery estimates $2,284 lost. As a result, money that would otherwise go toward programs and services for seniors is also lost.

Unfortunately, this is precisely because illegal skill games produce higher rates of return for owners than the lottery. Therefore, these dubious skill games remain rampant throughout the Keystone State.

Drew Svitko, the Lottery’s executive director, is eager to protect the Lottery and funding that supports senior Pennsylvanians.

These machines have the potential to cost the Lottery hundreds of millions of dollars in future harm. It’s imperative that we take action now to protect the funding that supports the programs that older Pennsylvanians rely upon each year.

Court Sides With Lottery On Wire Act, But iGaming Not Out Of The Woods Yet

The New Hampshire District Court sides with the NH Lottery regarding the Department of Justice’s troubling new opinion regarding the Wire Act.

On Monday, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission breathed a sigh of relief as US District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro sided with gambling interests. Specifically, the 60-plus page opinion found in favor of online gambling, lotteries and casinos and against the Department of Justice’s new Wire Act interpretation.

Recall that New Hampshire previously sued the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) over a revised Wire Act opinion. The core of the revised opinion states that all forms of online gambling violate the Wire Act.

More on the Wire Act decision

On standing

In short, after New Hampshire filed suit, the DOJ responded via a motion to dismiss the case. More specifically, the DOJ claimed the plaintiffs (New Hampshire and the lottery vendors) have no standing to sue. Therefore, there is no right to relief.

Their argument against standing is that New Hampshire and the lottery vendors do not face an imminent threat of prosecution.

Barbadoro effortlessly dismissed the DOJ’s argument on standing.

First, they have openly engaged for many years in conduct that the 2018 OLC Opinion now brands as criminal, and they intend to continue their activities unless they are forced to stop because of a reasonable fear that prosecutions will otherwise ensue. Second, the risk of prosecution is substantial. After operating for years in reliance on OLC guidance that their conduct was not subject to the Wire Act, the plaintiffs have had to confront a sudden about-face by the Department of Justice. Even worse, they face a directive from the Deputy Attorney General to his prosecutors that they should begin enforcing the OLC’s new interpretation of the Act after the expiration of a specified grace period. Given these unusual circumstances, the plaintiffs have met their burden to establish their standing to sue.

Grammatical interpretation

As a reminder, the Wire Act written in 1961 is both outdated and poorly written.  Consequently, it allows for various interpretations. Both New Hampshire and the DOJ argue that the “plain language” of the Wire Act support their arguments.

Barbadoro decided “where, as here, a statute is ambiguous, a court must look at more than grammar to determine its meaning.” After a through examination, Barbadoro concluded to limit the Wire Act to sports gambling. In doing so, his decision “avoids significant coherence problems” which could result from the DOJ’s interpretation.

Limitations on the ruling

The Court took specific notice that the parties disagree on whether judgment should be limited to the parties or be a universal ruling. A universal ruling is applicable to anyone affected including Pennsylvania online lottery and online gambling. Of course, the DOJ wants the ruling to apply only to the parties in the case.

While the Court did agree with the DOJ on this particular argument, Barbadoro also noted that judgment binds the parties outside of New Hampshire. This is due to NeoPollard, New Hampshire’s lottery vendor, operating outside of New Hampshire.

How to extend the judgment

However, all is not lost. Previously, the state of Michigan filed an amicus brief. Their argument is to extend relief to non-parties on behalf of the Lottery Commission.

The National Law Review succinctly outlines Michigan’s argument.

The argument was predicated on the fact that New Hampshire, as a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, benefits financially from the large scale of multi-jurisdictional games such as Powerball. If another state, such as Michigan, shuttered its state lottery, then the overall revenues of Powerball would decline. If the revenues of Powerball decline, then the share of Powerball revenue that New Hampshire receives would decrease. Based on this Michigan argued that the Court should ensure that New Hampshire not suffer any adverse financial effect.

Sadly, New Hampshire did not use this argument. For this reason, Barbadoro stated, “Should the Lottery Commission wish to pursue such relief, however, I am willing to entertain its claim.”

New Hampshire Lottery Commission has 14 days to file the motion. This motion requires the fleshing out of adequate factual and legal arguments.

What now?

Although Barbadoro ruled in favor of New Hampshire, the DOJ can still appeal to the First Circuit Court.

Should the appeal occur, the First Circuit Court has to review the case de novo. This means the court reviews the case anew or independently as if no decision by Barbadoro was previously made.

As a result, the appeals process will take months, if not years to finalize.

PA online poker

So, who benefits most from the ruling on the Wire Act? The answer is Pennsylvania online poker players.

The DOJ’s Wire Act opinion threw Pennsylvania’s expansion of online poker compacting and multi-state lottery games right into violation of their interpretation. Fortunately, Barbadoro’s ruling clears the way for the expansion of online poker in PA should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board decide to proceed.

The exciting potential of PA entering the online poker compact would immediately double the amount of online poker players across the four compacted states.

Did Good Karma Help A Woman Win Her Second Big PA Lottery Prize?

Perhaps Peggy Dodson’s good deed is what helped her win a second PA Lottery scratch-off jackpot prize worth $1 million to go with her initial $100,000 prize

Peggy Dodson’s daily habit of buying Pennsylvania Lottery tickets from the same store has paid off big twice, most recently a $1 million win in the Max-A-Million scratch-off game.

Two years ago, the 72-year-old Lancaster County resident stopped at Peterson’s Grocery Outlet in Peach Bottom to purchase a Scratch-Off called Family Feud, which paid out $100,000.

Even with two big wins, she has no plans to stop playing.

Still playing the lottery

“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. But I love to play the lottery,” she told the Lancaster Online news site after winning on May 23, just before her husband’s birthday.

“I liked that ticket because of the color purple, so it was the first one (on the roll) and it was the million-dollar winner!” Dodson told lottery officials.

“I cried, I couldn’t help it. I just thank God. We’re going to pay our mortgage off, we’ll pay our truck off, and we’ll go to the Grand Canyon and Alaska!”

The odds of winning $1 million in Max-A-Million are 1 in 1,320,000, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Beating long odds of the Lottery

Still, something more than odds might explain her wins.

Dodson’s winning way previously sounds as if that could explain her second big win. But statistically, that’s just not the case, a Harvard University professor cautioned.

“If someone already wins the lottery, then the chance that the person wins the lottery a second time will be exactly the same as the probability they win the lottery if they had not previously won the lottery before,” statistics professor Dr. Mark Glickman told CNBC Make It.

“In other words, having previously won the lottery does not improve or make less likely the chance of winning the lottery in the future.”

Dodson has followed the advice of most financial experts and took the lump sum payout, rather than taking multi-year annuity payments.

Like all lottery wins above $5,000, Dodson faces a minimum federal tax hit of 24% and Pennsylvania state taxes of roughly 3%.

More tickets mean slightly better odds

Because each game is independent, the only way to improve odds is by buying more tickets for each game. That’s still a huge longshot, Professor Lew Lefton, a faculty member at Georgia Tech’s School of Mathematics, explained to CNBC.

Dodson routinely bought multiple tickets. Lefton said investing more money in a higher number of tickets might not be worth the expense.

“My advice is don’t play the lottery and expect to win,” Lefton added. “You should only be willing to spend what you can afford to lose,” advice he offers on all gambling.

Karma of kindness?

Good karma may be a better explanation – even if statistics don’t take the intent of deeds into account.

While scratching off tickets at Peterson’s convenience store Dodson noticed a customer without enough money to pay for a soda, according to LancasterOnline.

Dodson paid a cashier the difference and went back to scratching –minutes before she won $1 million.

PA Lottery’s Fast Play Gave One Player A $1.5 Million Instant Win

The relatively new instant win game Fast Play awarded one PA Lottery player a record prize of $1.5 million dollars as quickly as a snap of the fingers.

A lucky winner snagged a Pennsylvania Lottery Extreme Green progressive top winning prize ticket of more than $1.5 million on April 17, 2019. This is the largest progressive top prize won since Pennsylvania Lottery Fast Play games’ inception in February 2017.

The innovation of PA Lottery’s Fast Play

Pennsylvania Lottery launched Fast Play in February of 2017. Fast Play is unique and unlike traditional scratch-off lottery tickets. It offers an instant win without having to scratch off a ticket or wait for a drawing.

Players can print tickets from any lottery terminal or touch screen self-service terminal. After that, to check for winning tickets, players can conveniently use scanners at any lottery retailer or use the official PA Lottery mobile app.

More games and chances to win

Fast Play only offered four games on launch. Now, it has steadily grown and expanded game offerings with 14 different games.

Also, Fast Play now offers a second chance at winning prizes with a Fast Frenzy Second Chance Drawing. Simply enter any non-winning ticket for a second and instant chance to win.

Don’t forget that all prizes have to be claimed within a year.

The recent growth of PA Lottery’s other games

Pennsylvania Lottery started to offer online games with the passage of a gambling expansion law in October 2017. Online games appeal to a younger demographic who are more electronic savvy with cell phones and tablets. In addition, the ease and convenience appeal to everyone.

PA online lottery

The PA iLottery offers a variety of instant win online scratch-off games. Like Fast Play, the games offer the satisfaction of an instant win.

If you want to give the PA iLottery a try, sign up for an account and get a free $5 using the bonus code PLAY 5.

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Xpress Sports: PA’s virtual sports games

Xpress Car Racing and Xpress Football require players to make some decisions and bring a fun game experience in a shorter time frame than a full football game or NASCAR race. It is similar to sports betting, minus all the research that goes into some bets.

These games are available at Pennsylvania Lottery retailers offering monitor games.

Keno in PA

Keno launched in Pennsylvania on May 1, 2018. It is a lottery style based game. Players can find Keno at adult-centered businesses such as bars and restaurants. The game displays on monitors throughout the area.

Players choose a set of numbers from 1 to 80. Then, the PA Lottery selects 20 random numbers. The more numbers that a player selects among those drawn and the amount of the wager increase the payouts. Keno drawings are held every four minutes throughout the day.

Positive growth expected for new lottery’s games

“The new games currently represent a small portion of the lottery’s overall growth, but the Pennsylvania Lottery anticipates iLottery, Keno, and Xpress Sports will continue to grow,” said Ewa Dworakowski, Pennsylvania Lottery press secretary.

PA Lottery’s purpose

Lottery proceeds in Pennsylvania have always funded programs that benefit the aging residents of the state. With the expected growth and new game offerings, it is expected that more of Pennsylvania’s aging residents will also be able to participate in such programs.

Last Minute Memo Throws A Wrench In Wire Act Lawsuit

A late DOJ court filing includes a memo suggesting its new Wire Act interpretation does not apply to lottery. It could get the NH Lotto suit dismised.

The legal compass of the Wire Act has changed once more with a new 11th-hour filing. The DOJ filed new evidence, including a memo on how the new Wire Act opinion applies to state lotteries. Or rather, that it does not apply to state lotteries.

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DOJ conducting a review of state lotteries

In the memo the DOJ filed, state lotteries are exempt currently from the opinion issued by the DOJ OLC on January 15, 2019. That new opinion stated that any transmission of a bet or wager across state lines would violate the Wire Act.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated in the memo that Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion earlier this year did not address the issue of state lotteries or their vendors.

Vendors are companies like NeoPollard and Pollard Banknote that provide lottery technology. These companies successfully joined into the New Hampshire suit against the DOJ.

The DOJ alleges it is now conducting a review on the applicability of the Wire Act to state lotteries and will not be prosecuting such cases while the DOJ conducts the review. The group will look both at multi-state draw games like Powerball and Mega Million and online lottery games.

The 11th-hour legal maneuver by the DOJ

State lotteries and their vendors can breathe a heavy and collected sigh of relief for now. However, what follows from this new memo released by the DOJ is a downright brilliant and shrewd legal maneuver.

It is also one that can extricate the government from the pending litigation brought by New Hampshire and NeoPollard. The case impacts other states too. Many states with a stake in online gaming and lottery, including Pennsylvania, filed amici briefs in the case.

Because the DOJ exempts state lotteries and its vendors out of the most recent opinion regarding the Wire Act, this potentially leaves New Hampshire, NeoPollard, and Pollard Banknote with no standing to bring suit. The New Hampshire Circuit Court could dismiss the case because there is no expectation or fear of prosecution for violation of the Wire Act.

NeoPollard’s attorney speaks out

Matthew D. McGill of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, represents NeoPollard in the suit. He told Law360 (paywall) via email that the DOJ considers state lotteries as “felonies in progress.” McGill further stated:

“Desperate to avoid judicial review of its radical reinterpretation of the Wire Act, DOJ now is backtracking from the clear import of the reversal of position that it supposedly had so carefully considered. DOJ’s eleventh-hour statement that it may — or may not — further revise its interpretation of the Wire Act only underscores the arbitrariness of the reversal of DOJ’s long-held position that the Wire Act addresses only sports betting activities.”

As both sides have filed motions for summary judgment, all parties plus those who filed amici briefs will appear for oral arguments as scheduled on April 11.

Sheldon Adelson involved again

Two weeks ago, the National Association of Convenience Stores and Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) filed amici briefs on behalf of the DOJ. CSIG is made up of many conservative Christian groups. Sheldon Adelson founded the group in 2013. The convenience stores group has always opposed lottery expansion online.

This is not the first instance of alleged meddling by Adelson. NJ Attorney General, Grubir S. Grewal, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover links between Adelson and the issuance of the January 15, 2019 OLC opinion. The Wall Street Journal has also alleged a direct link between Adelson and the DOJ’s OLC opinion.

What happens next for the DOJ Wire Act case?

The NH District Court is expected to rule on the summary judgment motion as early as May. An appeal will likely be filed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The First Circuit Court of Appeals has previously stated that the Wire Act only applies to ‘wagers on any sporting event or contest,’ that is, sports betting.”

PA Online Lottery Could Face Competition From Neighboring Ohio

With Ohio considering an online lottery and launch of PA online casinos just a couple months away, the PA online lottery is about to get some competition.

It’s been a good run for the Pennsylvania Lottery.

In the time since former Gov. Tom Wolf passed Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion bill in Oct. 2017, the PA Lottery launched several different types of games, including PA iLottery instant-win games. All of this has come without in-state competition in the online space.

However, that reign prosperity may come to an end in a very short amount of time. Not only is online gambling in PA just a couple of months away. Neighboring Ohio is considering launching an online lottery as well.

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Ohio planning to launch iLottery

One danger to the Pennsylvania iLottery may emerge from Ohio within a year’s time.

This past weekend, Cleveland.com reported that lottery officials want to launch an iLottery in less than a year.

Speaking with Cleveland.com, Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald said going online is just common sense based on prevailing shopping preferences.

“By allowing additional methods of purchasing existing content, the lottery can keep up with the way people have become accustomed to buying everything from music and books to their groceries.”

That move could cut into the PA lottery’s profits. Geolocation rules require that you have to physically be in Pennsylvania to play the PA iLottery.

Therefore, Ohio residents that might be driving across the border to play in PA would no longer need to make the trek. Those residents will soon not even have to leave their homes to get the same action PA provided.

Online gambling expected to launch this summer

Meanwhile, the PA Lottery also has to prepare for in-state competition.

PA online gambling has been a much-anticipated facet of the Pennsylvania gambling scene ever since Oct. 2017. However, the implementation of gambling websites has progressed much slower than anticipated.

There were rumblings at the beginning of the year that casinos were finalizing plans to launch online gambling sites. A launch seemed imminent.

However, a surprise decision from the Department of Justice regarding the Wire Act put those plans on hold. The DOJ concluded that effectively all forms online gambling fell under the purview of the Wire Act. Practically speaking, this meant money and data was not allowed to cross state lines. This made it tricky for online operators who had servers in other states like New York, for example.

That development put any plans to launch online casinos in a holding pattern. Thankfully, though, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole testified earlier this year that no the DOJ decision did not deter casinos who paid $10 million for an online casino license.

This, in theory, was not good news for the iLottery. An onslaught of online gambling sites would most likely mean decreased traffic to its online games.

Ironically, the PA casinos filed a lawsuit against the Lottery because its online games resembled online casinos. At the time of publication, that suit was still active.

March Madness: Three New PA Lottery Millionaires So Far This Month

Three PA Lottery players have collectively won more than $7.5 million from lotto games including Powerball and Cash 5 so far this March.

March Madness has hit the PA Lottery.

This past week, Pennsylvania’s state lottery delivered three jackpots worth a combined $7.5 million. The biggest victory was a $4.15 million Match 6 ticket sold in Doylestown, Bucks County.

That ticket matched all six winning numbers (20-21-28-35-36-45) to win the massive jackpot.

The winner will remain unknown until the prize is claimed and the ticket is verified.

PA Lottery presents record-breaking Cash 5 check

In contrast, the big winner in Berwick stepped into the spotlight this week. Columbia County resident Luther Coleman Jr. received a commemorative check worth almost $2.5 million.

A Sheetz in Coleman’s hometown sold the record-breaking ticket worth $2,488,733. The jackpot was the highest in the nearly 27-year history of the game. Cash 5 is the Pennsylvania Lottery’s longest-running jackpot game.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to congratulate the winner of this historic jackpot,” Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko said in the state lottery’s press release.

Coleman, who has worked at a nuclear power plant in Berwick for more than 31 years, said that he’s a frequent player of lottery games.

Lottery jackpot arrives on a whim

According to the release, on the day of the record Cash 5 contest, Coleman said he made his usual stop at Sheetz. He purchased items inside the store that left him with $1 and change.

Even though he had previously bought some tickets for the Cash 5 drawing that night, he decided to use that remaining dollar to buy another one at a machine outside the store.

Some players encountered problems with lottery machines on the day of the Cash 5 contest, but Coleman had no such trouble. He bought a $1 Quick Pick ticket that turned into the Cash 5 jackpot winner.

“When someone hears a story that I went out and bought the ticket with a $1 Quick Pick, you have to say that it can happen,” Coleman said. “My joke was that I was hoping to get my retirement package out of the machine. Lo and behold, it happened.”

Cash 5 adds to impressive total for Sheetz

The Cash 5 win was also a highlight for Sheetz, which earns a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

“This is one of the largest tickets ever sold from a Sheetz store location and continues a streak of good luck for our customers, who won over $124 million in lottery cash prizes in 2018,” said Sheetz AVP of Brand Strategies Ryan Sheetz.

Sheetz has 274 locations across Pennsylvania, each of which offers customers lottery-based terminal games and a number of instant lottery options as well.

Philly’s million-dollar Powerball ticket

Another big lottery win arrived near Philadelphia, at the ShopRite in Roxborough.

The ticket correctly matched all five white balls drawn in the March 16 contest (30-34-39-53-67). However, the ticket missed the red Powerball 11. That was still good enough to net $1 million less applicable withholding.

The winner, who is still unknown, will have one year from the drawing date to claim the prize. Lottery players are reminded to check every ticket, every time.

One easy way to chek your draw games tickets is to down the PA online lottery mobile app. One of its many features is a ticket scanner.

Jackpot wins provide bright spot for PA Lottery

The trio of jackpots provides some positive public relations for a PA Lottery system facing a great deal of pressure.

The state lottery, which funnels all of its proceeds to programs that support the state’s older residents, is navigating a new ruling by the US Justice Department. Said ruling redefines the scope of the federal Wire Act. That ruling has raised concerns about the lottery’s interstate backup system in Georgia.

The lottery’s revenue projections were also a point of contention at a recent meeting for the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee. Some members of the committee worried the lottery’s expectations were overly optimistic, which could create budget shortfalls in the future.

Those issues will certainly be addressed at a later date. For now, the lottery – and its players – can soak up the sunshine provided by these big wins.

Record Cash 5 Jackpot Marred By PA Lottery’s Tech Woes

The $2.4 million Cash 5 jackpot wasn’t entirely good news for the PA Lottery, which had to deal with both machine and app outages on drawing day.

The largest jackpot in Cash 5 history has a winner. Though that did not happen without a bit of controversy.

Leading up to the Pennsylvania Lottery drawing for a record-breaking $2,488,733 prize, many state residents experienced difficulty in obtaining tickets for the drawing last Friday.

Some even took to Twitter to air their complaints. In response to these individual messages, the PA Lottery tweeted:

PA Lottery problems ahead of drawing

As KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh reported, many Pennsylvanians could not purchase tickets for much of the day last Friday.

Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for the PA Lottery, told the station an outage occurred due to connectivity issues with Verizon cellular service at several terminals around the state.

In addition to lottery terminals being down, there were also outages on the PA Lottery online app. The ticket checker feature was out of service for a similar period of time.

According to KDKA-TV, the Department of Revenue became aware of the outages around 8 a.m. By 3 p.m., Johnson said, the issues were resolved.

One ticket hits Cash 5 jackpot

The PA Lottery announced Monday that more than 156,300 Cash 5 tickets won prizes from Friday’s drawing. None bigger, though, than one sold in Columbia County.

The more-than $2.4 million jackpot, the largest in the 27-year history of Cash 5, had accrued since Feb. 22. The winner bought the ticket from the convenience store Sheetz in Berwick. The store receives a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

The winning numbers are:

5-6-10-12-15

“We’re thrilled that the largest jackpot in Cash 5 history created a big winner,” Drew Svitko, executive director of the PA Lottery, said in a statement. “Friday’s historic drawing also produced more than 156,000 other Cash 5 winners all across Pennsylvania.”

There was only a single winning ticket, so the lucky player gets the entirety of the jackpot.

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$150K Powerball also awarded

The day after the winning Cash 5 ticket hit, one Powerball ticket in Delaware County matched four of the five white balls drawn and the red Powerball to win $150,000.

Without the $1 Power Play option, per the PA Lottery, the prize would have been a mere $50,000.

The vendor of the winning ticket, Dutton Mill Beverage in Aston, earned a $500 bonus.

Powerball jackpot gets bigger and bigger

Meanwhile, the Powerball jackpot continues to build. The aforementioned PA Lottery player nabbed a nice prize, but no one matched every ball to take the estimated $414 million jackpot.

The estimated annuity value for Wednesday’s drawing stands at $448 million. Winners can also opt for the lump sum of $271.7 million cash. The prize is the 17th-largest lottery jackpot ever.

One Cash 5 Player Could Take Home $2.4 Million Friday

The Friday, March 8 Cash 5 drawing will feature a record-setting $2.4 million prize for some lucky Pennsylvania Lottery players.

The largest Cash 5 prize in Pennsylvania history is up for grabs.

The Pennsylvania Lottery announced that a $2.4 million jackpot is ready to be claimed following Friday’s drawing. That total sets the record for the game’s largest top prize in its 27-year history.

It also bests the previous record set just one day prior. On Thursday, the Cash 5 jackpot hit $2 million. PA Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko observed that it tied a three-way jackpot of $2 million for biggest ever.

“It’s been more than two years since the Cash 5 jackpot has approached this level,” he noted. The previous jackpot hit on Jan. 17 of 2017.

“It’s very exciting that the Cash 5 jackpot has set a new all-time record,” Svitko said in a statement about tonight’s draw. “Regardless of the jackpot size, we always remind players to please play responsibly.”

Biggest Cash 5 prize yet

The top prize for Cash 5, PA Lottery’s longest-running jackpot game, has grown since it was last awarded Feb. 22, a $500,000 purse won in Beaver County.

The base jackpot for the nightly draw game is $125,000. It reset on Feb. 23 and has been growing ever since.

It is not the only swelling payday for PA Lottery players. Powerball is getting pretty large as well. The Saturday drawing is expected to have a jackpot of $414 million.

How to check your Cash 5 tickets

Every night at 6:59 p.m. ET, there is a Cash 5 drawing. You can watch the drawing live on the PA Lottery website. If you miss the drawing, you can also check numbers on the PA Lottery mobile app.

The app can also scan your Cash 5 tickets in order to check if any are winners.

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How to play Cash 5

Players looking to play Cash 5 pay $1 and select five numbers between 1 and 43. Using a Cash 5 payslip, customers can select their own numbers. Or they can opt for computer-selected quick picks.

In order to claim the jackpot, all five numbers must match the drawing. Players, though, can also win prizes for matching anywhere between two and four numbers.

Customers can purchase up to seven draws (one week) in advance. The PA Lottery said the chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 962,598. The odds of claiming any prize stand at about 1 in 10.5.

History of Cash 5 draw game

Cash 5 is one of a number of statewide draw games the PA Lottery offers. It is also the longest-running game in this group. The game launched in 1992 and was originally a weekly draw game. It expanded to nightly drawings in 1998.

PA Lottery Fighting Multiple Battles To Protect Revenue

Facing pressure from both the Department of Justice and illegal skill games, the PA Lottery is growing concerned about its revenue.

The Pennsylvania Lottery can consider 2018 a success. However, the first few months of 2019 have already presented a number of obstacles.

According to an article on PennLive, state lottery officials said profits for 2018 were up about $50 million over the previous year. They were also ahead of projections for the early portion of this year.

But a ruling last month by the US Department of Justice, some budgetary concerns from the state’s senate, and some competition from rapidly spreading dubiously legal games of skill have stalled all that momentum. They’ve also raised concerns about the lottery’s long-term health.

New ruling leads the list of concerns

Last month, the US Department of Justice issued an opinion that extended the federal Wire Act to apply to any form of gambling that crosses state lines. This includes online gambling and online lottery, not just sports betting which had been the previous stance.

“It represents a huge threat to the lottery industry as well as the Pennsylvania Lottery as well as the gaming industry,” Drew Svitko, executive director of the Pennsylvania Lottery, told PennLive.

If that decision stands, it could force the Pennsylvania Lottery to move its backup data center in Georgia. The data center would then move in-state. This process would carry an exorbitant cost.

In response, both Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (the top lottery lobbying group) have authored letters challenging the new position of the Department of Justice and asking for further clarification.

Senate Appropriation Committee has lotto questions

At a meeting last week of the PA Senate Appropriations Committee, Republican senators raised concerns about the state lottery’s revenue projections, according to PennLive.

Senators worried that the lottery revenue projections were overly optimistic. The fear is revenue and could fall short by $50 million or more. That kind of deficit creates a huge budgetary problem. After all, the state lottery funds a wide variety of entitlement services and financial support for seniors.

“If you qualify, you get them,” Senate Appropriations Committee member Pat Browne told PennLive. “If we don’t have the money (to pay for them), the exposure is huge.”

Growth in games of skill also a concern

The Pennsylvania Lottery launched online games in May 2018 and has nearly tripled its game offerings in the ensuing months. The online lottery games have fared well, but the monitor-based games such as keno and Xpress Sports, which launched last year, haven’t been quite as successful. According to PennLive, those games produced just $9 million for the lottery fund in the first six months of the fiscal year.

Svitko blames the spread of illegal games of skill for some of the lottery’s struggles. Games of skill typically return greater revenues for their owners than the commission the lottery pays. This makes them popular options for some retailers.

The fact that the state police considers the games illegal hasn’t seemed to slow the spread of them either.

“We still feel that the (skill) machines are illegal,” Major Scott Miller, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, told PennLive.

Svitko told PennLive that almost 18 percent of lottery retailers have at least one skill game machine. A year ago, it was half that. But in the absence of a higher court decision that will eliminate the games of skill as a competitor, the state lottery is left to take up the challenge on its own.

The growing senior population needs the PA Lottery

The state lottery already has a number of hurdles in its path. Yet another one will appear in the near future. Last week’s PennLive article cited statistics from the state’s Independent Fiscal Office highlighting the growth projections for Pennsylvania’s senior population. The number of senior citizens in the Keystone State is expected to grow 23 percent by 2025. That increases the total number of seniors to nearly 2.8 million people.

And thus, the PA Lottery, which already funds essential services for existing seniors, will have to do even more to keep pace in the years ahead.

“The expectations are really high,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell told PennLive. “We have to be concerned about where things are going.”