Pennsylvania Casinos Take Action Against State Lottery

Summary: After airing their grievances against the new games launched by the state lottery, a group of Pennsylvania casinos have now taken legal action.

For the past few weeks, a coalition consisting of seven Pennsylvania casinos have been talking about how they are not happy with the latest additions to the state lottery. Now, this group has decided to act against the Pennsylvania Lottery and have filed a lawsuit against the Lottery and their new selection of online gaming options.

Fighting Against the Online Lottery

Parx Casino and GANOn Wednesday, the coalition filed a suit within the Commonwealth Court, seeking an injunction to stop the Lottery from providing what they are calling illegal, simulated casino-style online games. The group has noted that players of a land-based or online casino in the state must be 21 years of age to take part. However, with the online lottery games, players can be as young as 18 and the new games being offered are similar to slot games.

Defendants listed in the suite include the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and its Secretary C. Daniel Hassell. A spokesman for the coalition, David La Torre, commented on the suit, summing up the casino group’s side by stating that the actions of the Lottery are illegal and to make matters worse they are promoting casino style games to teenagers.

La Torre pointed out that the casinos of the state have to follow strict regulations involving underage gaming or they have to pay millions in fines. The group is accusing the Lottery of openly being in violation of the law and marketing the games to individuals who are 18 years of age.

The casinos feel they will lose revenue due to the similarity of the games, which will hurt the tax collection for the state that provides property tax relief as well as funds local improvement projects.

First Mention of an Issue

The casinos in Pennsylvania first became upset with the Lottery back in May when the group started offering their selection of games within the iLottery. The games are available online as well as via application. The games include casino-style options that the casinos feel are too similar to what they plan on offering via online casino gaming in the future.

Seven casinos decided to band together at that time and sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf to ask for the games to be stopped. The group mentioned at that time that they would consider taking legal action if nothing changed.

The group has now followed through and filed a suite based on Act 42, which involves the online gambling legislation that was passed into law last year. Also mentioned in the filing is that the casinos had to pay a $10 million fee to offer slot gaming and pay a high tax rate of 54%, something that the lottery does not have to do.

The casinos involved in the lawsuit include:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono
  • Parx Casino
  • Stadium Casino
  • The Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort

The group has pointed out several games that have similar themes and titles of slot games found at the casino gaming floors, including Monster Wins, Big Foot, Robin Hood, Volcano Eruption Reveal and Super Gems, are being played online.

It will certainly be interesting to see what comes of this case and if the lottery will be forced to stop offering the online games. The online casino industry has yet to launch and this may somehow play a role as to what can be offered or what the Lottery will be allowed to provide.