A Closer Look At The New And Improved Pennsylvania Lottery

The new Pennsylvania online lottery hasn’t offered final details yet, but here is a look at what you might expect when it launches in March.

The Pennsylvania Lottery was just as excited about the recent Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill as any casino.

The new legislation pushed the state’s lottery system into another echelon of gambling accessibility when it allowed gamblers to play the lottery online. A lottery spokesperson spoke with TribLive earlier this month, noting that the PA lottery plans on launching at least some of its online games this spring

In an interview with TribLive.com, Pennsylvania newsstand owner Al Lydic said he believes his lottery sales will skyrocket.

“The lottery is going to put three monitors on the wall here, and people will be able to play keno and sports betting. I’ll have a mini casino.”

How the new laws will affect the current setup

For the past 45 years, Pennsylvania’s lottery has offered, at one time or another a variety of games. The current lineup includes:

  • Keno
  • Instant win
  • Draw games
  • Virtual sports

The thought of these games going live on mobile devices and on monitors is tantalizing but, unfortunately, TribLIve’s source didn’t say which games would be available for purchase when the platform launches.

However, there’s a good chance that they’ll offer a full slate of games. The more revenue for the state, the better. And you can certainly bet on the fact they want to boost their revenue last year after seeing a dip in 2017 after seven-straight years of growth.

How Pennsylvania online lottery would compare to other states

There are currently four states who have functional online lotteries operating in their state:

  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky

Of those four, Michigan is the most similar to Pennsylvania because they’re running draw, instant win, and keno. In the second quarter of 2017, the state pulled in $20 million from online lottery sales.

Michigan is well known for the vigor with which they push their online lottery sales, and there’s nothing that would lead us to believe that Pennsylvania would be any different.

The state is trying to overcome a considerable deficit, which is part of the reason the gambling bill went through. Tens of millions of dollars will flow into the state via taxes and licensing fees.

While the state lottery doesn’t pour its money into the same state coffers that casinos do, the state’s senior citizens benefit from lottery donations to rent rebates and prescription drug subsidies, among other benefits.

Lottery will also oversee virtual sports, too

While online gambling is the state lottery’s biggest win, don’t forget that it also won the right to oversee virtual sports betting.

Virtual sports are fictional sporting events — football games, horse races, etc. — upon which gamblers bet on the outcome.

This type of sports gambling doesn’t offer quite the same thrill of live competitions but they’ve proven in other states to scratch the itch of those looking for action during downtime in the U.S. professional sports calendar.

The Pennsylvania Lottery Could Be Online As Early As March

It appears the PA Lottery will be the first form of online gambling offered in Pennsylvania with officials expecting a Spring launch.

Online slots, table games, and poker are coming to Pennsylvania. However, it now appears the PA Lottery will get there first.

Pennsylvania became the fourth US state to legalize online gambling in 2017. State lawmakers passed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill in the fall of last year.

Additionally, the new law regulates video gaming terminals (VGTs) at approved truck stops and tablet gaming in approved airports. It also authorizes the construction of up to ten satellite casinos at locations a specified distance from one of Pennsylvania’s 12 existing casinos. Plus, it allows the state to start online lottery sales.

No timeline for online gambling

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is going about the business of setting up regulations and licensing online gambling operators. But there is no set timeline for when the process will conclude and the online gambling market will open up.

However, a PA Lottery spokesperson told the local press online lottery games that can be played online, on a computer or mobile device, will likely hit the market this spring.

A spokesperson for the gaming board told Trib Total Media it is currently talking with PA casinos interested in applying for the three types of online gaming licenses it will ultimately offer.

This includes individual licenses for online slots, online poker, and online table games at a cost of $4 million each. Although, PA casinos will be able apply for all three at once at a reduced licensing fee of $10 million.

However, the board says it has yet to put together the regulations that will guide the licensing process and the games themselves.

In fact, the board has admitted it has no time frame for when this regulatory process will begin, or end.

PA Lottery ready to go online as soon as March

In the meantime, the PA Lottery appears ready to start online lottery ticket sales on its website, a newly designed mobile app, and lottery retail monitors, as early as late March.

According to the state, lottery sales have helped put more than $1 billion a year for the past six years into programs designed to serve Pennsylvania seniors. However, coming off a 35 percent increase in sales between 2010 and 2016, lottery sales dipped 3 percent last year.

As a result, a PA Lottery spokesperson said the lottery wants to go online in an effort to modernize its business model. It’s also hoping to better compete in the face of growing competition from other forms of entertainment.

No decision has been made as to which games will be for sale online. However, PA Lottery officials have confirmed the online games will also be available on monitors at lottery retailers across the state.

Adding to existing lottery revenues

Hopes are the new games will add to lottery revenues rather than cannibalize traditional ticket sales. In fact, PA Lottery officials say the new games could generate up to $250 million in new profits over the first five years.

Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, North Dakota, and North Carolina are the only other states that currently offer online lottery sales.

The Illinois Lottery was the first to go online in 2012. It generated close to $20 million in online sales last year. Michigan reported more than $90 million in online lottery sales last year, helping overall lottery sales increase seven percent.