Pennsylvanians looking for the first tangible signs of last year’s online gambling expansion may look no further than the state’s upcoming online lottery product, called iLottery. Online gambling is likely months away, mini-casinos over a year away, but iLottery games are expected to go live sometime in early spring, making the games the first new gambling that Pennsylvanians will likely see.
Pennsylvania lottery sales, which have been in existence for over 45 years, is a multiple billion dollar business, generating sales of over $4 billion over the last two years. Despite strong historical numbers, recent signs indicate that the Pennsylvania lottery needs to adapt to the 21st century as the lottery competes for consumer’s entertainment dollar. During 2017, sales dipped 3% over the last year after showing strong growth over the last seven years.
The chart below shows the activity from lottery sales over the last eight years.
The Pennsylvania iLottery Explained
The newly established iLottery is one of the many new types of products that were passed with Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion last year. The Pennsylvania Lottery will run the iLottery games once they go live sometime early this year. Current games offered by the PA lottery include scratch-off games, draw games (such as Powerball and Mega Millions) as well as “Fast Play” games, which is a form of scratch games.
The iLottery games will not simply be digital versions of the types of games Pennsylvanians can already play, but instead, a new category type all together with a new experience.
iLottery games will be lottery based games that can be played online or through apps. There has been no confirmation on all the games that will be available at the time of launch, but online keno and virtual sports will be among the games offered, according to the report.
Protections for existing lottery retailers were added and include the sale of new online lottery prepaid cards available exclusively at these retailers. The intention of protections is to ensure that foot traffic is not an unintended consequence of the reforms. Lottery retailers will receive at least a 6% commission on these cards, which were previously successfully introduced in Michigan. The Pennsylvania iLottery hopes that the online games may even bring new customers into the stores.
When to Expect iLottery Games
Due to the logistics of setting up, new casinos are likely to be one of the last types of new gambling that Pennsylvanians see from the latest gambling expansion. Online casinos won’t take as long due to the infrastructure that has been established in other states and countries. iLottery games are also comparatively easy to get going.
Unlike other forms of new gambling coming to Pennsylvania, iLottery sales will be allocated directly to the lottery, which mainly benefits older Pennsylvanians. These funds are used for tax and rent rebates, subsidies for prescription drugs and certain senior citizen benefits.
Despite the fact that online gambling has so far only spread to four states, online lotteries are more common, even available in some conservative states. Citizens of Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and North Dakota are available online to those who access the games within the games within the state. Introducing the games in 2012, Illinois was the pioneer in the country. Last year, Illinois generated nearly $20 million in sales on standard lottery games. Pennsylvania believes the new games in the state could generate $250 in new profits from the games.