The Pennsylvania Lottery is growing, with new products and online lottery games rolling out in 2019.
The state lottery was a big beneficiary of a 2017 law allowing it to expand into the digital realm. In an effort to modernize its lottery platform and appeal to younger customers, Pennsylvania is building out a comprehensive upgrade to its product. There are new games in store, new ways to play, and new venues in which to play them.
Full-scale PA online gambling is also poised to launch this year.
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Online lottery games are now live at PAiLottery.com, with 11 offerings available at launch. They consist of “instant win” games that are somewhat like slots but are in some ways more engaging.
The list of online instant win games is as follows:
More games are expected to roll out in the near future.
According to its scope, the temporary regulations cover, “iLottery game rules, iLottery registration and participation requirements, and iLottery self-exclusion requirements.”
The temporary regulations will remain in place for up to two years, and as it works on permanent regulations, the department is will consider all written comments, suggestions and objections regarding the temporary regulations submitted over the next 30 days.
There is now a PA Lottery App, as well, with a mobile client allowing customers to play on the go. This would dovetail nicely with keno and other games that are best scored electronically.
There’s more than keno in store, though. The iLottery app includes that differ from traditional offerings. Here’s how Svitko describes them:
These games are meant to appeal to a new audience. These are a lot closer to a game like Candy Crush than what people are accustomed to in a game like Powerball. These are meant to be engaging, entertaining, relevant games.
Svitko expects the new games to attract a younger audience and drive another $30 million to the lottery’s account. As a form of protection for retailers (of which there are almost 10,000), traditional draw tickets will not initially be available on the iLottery app.
Revenue from ticket sales goes to support infrastructure for the state’s aging population. Since launching in 1972, the lottery has contributed more than $28 billion in funding.
More on the app here.
By and large, Pennsylvania’s online lottery will follow the online lottery and online gambling models established in other states.
Online lottery players must be 18 years of age and located in the state in order to play.
Registering players will have to submit to age and identity verification and will need to be geolocated within Pennsylvania’s borders when purchasing tickets or playing instant win games.
The information required to establish an iLottery account includes:
The regulations require the Lottery website to disclose the following to consumers:
Several responsible gaming policies are also baked into the temporary regulations, including self-exclusion and the capability for players to set deposit, wagering and time limits.
The regulations stipulated that self-exclusion requests can be made through the player’s account, with customers choosing to self-exclude able to choose from several self-exclusion periods.
One important note on self-exclusion: Players may not withdraw funds from their account during the period of self-exclusion.
For those unfamiliar, Keno is a popular electronic game in casinos around the country. Players choose up to ten numbers from a grid of 80 squares, and a computer randomly draws 20 of its own. Payouts are based on the number of spots the player matches. Games run every four minutes, and the 65 percent return-on-investment roughly matches the lottery’s overall winning expectation.
Keno is available at a number of food, beverage and retail locations throughout the state. Hundreds of them, in fact.
The lottery is authorized to offer the game via its land-based and electronic platforms, and it’s extending those permissions to retailers. Keno requires the installation of a dedicated video monitor, which the lottery will personally hang inside the location. Once live, the owner receives a five percent commission on all money wagered on site.
Pennsylvania is the 18th state to offer the keno through its lottery, budgeting $27 million in first-year profit.
Those keno monitors now serve a dual purpose. The lottery has begun offering virtual sports betting, too. Some online casinos also offer the product in the US — SugarHouse Casino, for example — but the PA lottery is the first state entity to do so.
PA’s virtual games are called Xpress Sports. The lottery expects the format to drive another $13 million to its bottom line this year.
Here is what it looks like:
The vendor is Inspired Entertainment Inc., which provides virtual sports for a number of companies.
Again, some explanation may be in order. Virtual sports are simulated sporting events “broadcast” by the operator. The quotes are there because these aren’t actual sports broadcasts; they’re just digital simulations. The outcomes are determined by what is essentially a random number generator.
Just like physical sports, virtual sports are perfect fodder for bettors. And they’re wildly popular in existing markets abroad. Wagers on simulated events account for as much as 20 percent of total revenue for some sportsbooks.
PA lottery customers can now bet on virtual sports, including simulations of football games and racing events right alongside Keno. And as with Keno, virtual sporting events run every few minutes.
Brick-and-mortar lottery retailers have long been concerned that online lottery will cut into their sales. Even though these fears seem unfounded based on the evidence from Michigan and other online lottery states, the regulations allow the Lottery to address cannibalization should the need arise.
The temporary regulations allow the Lottery to implement retailer incentive programs at the discretion of the revenue department, with the money for the programs coming from the Lottery Fund.
Money in dormant online lottery accounts is forfeit and transferred to the state after three years.
Most prizes will go directly to the player’s account, but prizes exceeding a certain, yet-to-be-determined amount will need to be claimed in-person, at an authorized lottery claim center.
According to the regulations, the definition of an online lottery game, “does not include games that represent physical, Internet-based or monitor-based interactive lottery games which simulate casino-style lottery games, specifically including poker, roulette, slot machines and blackjack.”
The regulations aren’t entirely clear, but since Pennsylvania will offer online instant win games(which bear a striking resemblance to online slot machines), it appears online lottery games will not use casino themes or simulate the gameplay of casino games.
Per the temporary regulations:
“Internet instant game—A lottery game of chance in which, by the use of a computer, tablet computer or other mobile device, a player purchases a play, with the result of play being a reveal on the device of numbers, letters or symbols indicating whether a lottery prize has been won according to an established methodology as provided by the Lottery.”