The PA Online Lottery Is Probably A Bigger Deal Than You Realize

Written By J.R. Duren on February 27, 2018 - Last Updated on June 5, 2018
PA online lottery

It’s going to be a profitable spring for the Pennsylvania Lottery.

This May, Pennsylvania will launch its iLottery, an online form of the lottery that will include scratch-offs, Keno, and draw games. Once the platform is live, it will make PA the fifth state in the country to offer an online lottery platform, joining:

  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky

Michigan is considered the sterling example of iLottery success. According to Pennsylvania Lottery Spokesperson Gary Miller, the state served as a case study as PA formed its online games.

We are looking at successful iLottery models across the industry, including in Michigan and other states that were early adopters. Pennsylvania and Michigan have a lot in common demographically and currently, they are the U.S. iLottery industry leader.”

The games will be available to anyone who is 18 or older and physically located in the state of Pennsylvania. So, a 23-year-old New Jersey resident could conceivably drive into Pennsylvania, stop at a McDonald’s near the state line, and buy a couple of PA iLottery scratchers on his or her phone.

A closer look at virtual sports

Scratchers, draw games, and Keno are familiar territory for PA gamblers. All three are currently offered in the state. Virtual sports, on the other hand, is not.

The concept is that lottery players can wager on fictional sporting events — a soccer match, let’s say. Their win or loss depends on the score of the game. These games provide a new form of gambling. It also gives sports fans action during down times between professional sports seasons.

There is one catch to virtual sports, though. They’ll only be available via lottery terminals in bars and taverns. For now, they won’t be available on mobile platforms.

Gov. Tom Wolf noted in a press release that the Lottery expects these four new wagering avenues to add around $75 million to the state’s coffers over the next five years.

Self-regulation to play important role in iLottery

Much of what we know about security and self-regulation involved in the upcoming iLottery launch comes from a Feb. 20 appearance by Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell in front of the House of Representative’s Appropriations Committee.

Hassell said that the new platform will include the ability to block yourself from playing online lottery games for up to five years.

Also, following standard procedure for state lotteries, players won’t be able to purchase any games with their credit card.

2018 a big year for PA gambling

Along with the launch of the iLottery, the state is scheduled to launch its online casino platforms later this year.

The extent of the online casino market is not known yet. However, Miller says the state is hoping that, no matter how many sites go live this year, the combination of the two online gambling platforms should drive more customers to traditional lottery games available for purchase at gas stations, truck stops and other locations.

“We anticipate that by attracting new players and broadening their awareness of lottery games, it will help to grow sales of traditional games.”

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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