Pennsylvania casino operators are going to court to stop the state lottery from horning in on what they claim is their exclusive turf.
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Casino Gaming Coalition filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, which has oversight over the Pennsylvania Lottery, and Department Secretary C. Daniel Hassell. The Coalition is seeking an injunction to halt the Lottery’s new online iLottery games.
The iLottery games, which launched in May, have proven quite popular with the state’s gamblers. But the casinos note that the games were originally promoted as “slot-style” and “casino-style” despite last year’s legislation explicitly forbidding the Lottery from offering online games that “simulate casino-style games.”
The Coalition, which represents seven of the state’s 13 licensed casinos, also objects to the fact that the state’s as-yet unlaunched online casinos will only be accessible by state residents aged 21 years or older, similar to rules for entering land-based gaming floors, while the iLottery site accepts customers as young as 18 years.
The Coalition also noted that several of the iLottery games, including Robin Hood, Super Gems and Monster Wins, have similar titles and themes to land-based slots products. The games also feature slots-style penny- and dime-denominated play.
In a Coalition press release, spokesperson David La Torre claimed the Lottery was “openly violating the law” by “promoting casino-style gambling to teenagers.” La Torre further warned that “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 Lottery did respond to the Coalition’s original missive by adjusting its iLottery marketing to remove the offending phrases, but otherwise has been unmoved by the casinos’ complaints. In fact, the Lottery further tweaked the casinos’ noses last week via the launch of its new virtual sports betting product, which the Coalition called another one of the Lottery’s “illegal attempts to cannibalize the state’s casino industry.”