The clash between the Pennsylvania Lottery and state casinos continues to amp up. The latest battle comes courtesy of the virtual sports monitor games rolled out by the PA Lottery.
In the lottery’s latest attempt to modernize its selection of games while attracting a younger crowd, Xpress Football and Xpress Car Racing went live last week. But like they were following the launch of the online lottery program, known as the PA iLottery, earlier this year, Pennsylvania casinos are not happy.
PA Lottery taking the state by storm
The PA Lottery already benefits from two highly successful platforms launched in 2018. Per Penn Live, Keno has generated $12.7 million since May 1 and is estimated to result in $62 million by the end of the fiscal year next summer. Similarly, the online lottery has raised $50.6 million since May 22 and could produce $300 million in the current fiscal year.
Now the PA Lottery has another new product: Xpress Sports. Xpress Football and Xpress Car Racing combine the experience of video games, sports betting, and slot machines, allowing users to wager on computer-simulated sporting events that are determined by random computerized drawings that occur every five minutes.
Betting odds derive from historical data and past performances of the virtual participants. Users can play and watch a livestream at PA Lottery retailers, bars, and restaurants that offer monitor games. The lottery estimates $55 million generated by Xpress Sports in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
“Following Keno’s very strong start, we expect that our Xpress Sports games will also be a big hit with our players,” PA Lottery executive director Drew Svitko said in a release. “These games are part of our continuing mission to modernize our business and generate new funds to benefit older Pennsylvanians.”
State casinos, though, believe the lottery has overstepped the bounds outlined in last year’s gambling expansion bill. Again.
The bill in question
While the bill expanded the state’s selection of games, the PA Lottery began plans for modernizing its product. This year alone, iLottery and Keno were introduced to the state, as was the new PA Lottery mobile app.
Yet while the selection has pleased lottery players, that group does not include Pennsylvania casinos.
Casinos continue to clash with PA Lottery
After Xpress Sports went live, the Pennsylvania Casino Gaming Coalition — composed of the state’s 13 casinos — quickly objected.
In an email, coalition spokesman David La Torre said Xpress Sports is violating regulations laid out in the 2017 bill.
“The Pennsylvania Lottery’s new game combines elements of online casino games, sports betting and slot machines — areas that are legislatively restricted to the commonwealth’s casino operators. We will continue to oppose their illegal attempts to cannibalize the state’s Casino industry.”
The coalition was already considering legal action against Wolf’s administration following the release of iLottery games. The casinos contend those games are too similar to the slot selection found at online casinos.
In June, the coalition sent a letter to Wolf imploring him to shut down the online lottery program.
“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 gambling expansion bill allows online lottery games, but with restrictions. Any “games that represent physical, Internet-based or monitor-based interactive lottery games which simulate casino-style lottery games” represent violations.
That, the coalition contends, is where the PA Lottery is in violation. The games must stop. Or else.