Following complaints and demands forwarded by Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos through their lawyer, the state lottery’s online lottery games will no longer be marketed as “casino-style” or “slot-style.” The decision was made by the Keystone State’s Department of Revenue which oversees the lottery after the 13 casinos called for the suspension of the iLottery because of direct and illegal intrusion into the online games that they (the casinos) intend to offer.
Last October Tom Wolf, the state’s governor signed off a legislation that legalized online gambling. The Pennsylvania lottery was quick to act on this and it took full advantage of the opportunity to premiere a collection of interactive online lottery titles in a little of a seven months later. The law that Governor Wolf signed, in an effort to protect the state’s land-based casino industry, forbade the lottery from offering ‘interactive lottery games which simulate casino-style games.’
The iLottery’s operations did not go unnoticed and this became clear on June 27 when Mark Stewart, the lawyer representing the 13 casinos penned a letter that was addressed to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s Secretary, Daniel Hassel. In the letter, Stewart alleged that the new online games that were being offered by the lottery were in direct violation of the online gaming titles that the casinos were planning to offer once they acquired the right online gambling licenses.
“In virtually every way imaginable, Lottery’s iLottery program mimics a casino operation offering simulated casino-style games in direct contravention of (the law’s) express prohibition on Lottery offering ‘interactive lottery games which simulate casino-style games’,” the letter read.
Indeed, some of the games available at the Pennsylvania iLottery website closely resemble the typical slot offerings available on most casino floors. On June 29, Daniel Hassel responded to claims made in the letter and he admitted that the way the iLottery was advertising its offerings and the description of its products was a mistake.
Hassel explained that the ads in question were created by Scientific Games International, an affiliate of the iLottery vendor, using their own graphics and language, and not the lottery’s advertising material. He then pointed out that, “The Pennsylvania Lottery addressed this inaccuracy in the affiliates’ graphic and language immediately.”
However, the advertising mistakes were just a tip of the iceberg as far as the casino operators’ concerns go. The letter also addressed the fact that the new online lottery games were available for 18-year-olds while the casinos were restricted to offering their services to patrons who were over the age of 21. In addition to this, Stewart called for the suspension of the iLottery until such a time that both industries could “work collaboratively with the gaming industry to develop a lawful iLottery program.”
The final verdict seemed to be split and represented a rather fairly comprehensive defeat for the state’s casinos. While the lottery will now certainly have to avoid certain terms in their promotional materials, their games will remain out there and they will definitely be competing against the casinos’ online offerings.