In Defense Of PA iLottery And Rationality In The PA Online Gaming World

In Defense Of PA iLottery And Rationality In The PA Online Gaming World

by Adam Haman

Recently David La Torre wrote an article complaining about the PA iLottery that is both blatantly self-serving and dishonest. As he admits in the piece, La Torre works for a coalition of Pennsylvania casinos that are upset that the PA iLottery offers online lottery games that “imitate the look, sound and feel of slot machines.” These casinos have gone so far as to file suit in Commonwealth court seeking an injunction to stop the PA iLottery from offering these games.

To bolster his complaints, La Torre’s article makes two broad claims:

  1. That the PA iLottery, by offering these games, is “nurturing gambling habits for children.” Even worse, La Torre clumsily implies that Pennsylvania’s children are at risk of losing real money on PA iLottery’s games.
  2. That the PA iLottery violates state law (2017 Act 42), which disallows it from offering casino-style games like slot machines.

Both of these claims are absurd and disingenuous.

First of all, La Torre’s breathless shock that children can use the “demo” feature to play games at PA iLottery (for fun – no money involved) reveals a lack of knowledge of the online landscape. Children can already play “casino-style games” for no money all over the internet and have been able to do so for years. See here, and here, and here, and here, and here. The list of available options for casino-style free play is almost endless and includes sites run by Pennsylvania brick and mortar casinos. The list even includes sites run by La Torre’s own clients (here and here).

The second sloppy accusation using the “danger to children” ploy is to claim that the PA iLottery is somehow putting kids at risk of losing real money on their games.

First of all, Pennsylvania casinos have recently applied to offer online gaming. When their games go live, they will immediately be “putting kids at risk” in exactly the same way La Torre is claiming the PA iLottery is. This is pure hypocrisy.

Additionally, the amount of checks in place to prevent minors from gambling online are numerous and the technology behind those checks is robust. Here’s a question that should put this matter to rest: New Jersey has had online casinos for almost five years. Can you find one news story about even one kid losing money on an online casino?

The answer is, “No. You can’t,” because it doesn’t happen.

Finally, lets deal with La Torre’s second claim (that PA iLottery is violating state law by offering slot machines) that has prompted the casinos to file for an injunction.

This lawsuit is so preposterous that it has to be a publicity stunt. It will fail. Immediately if not sooner.

The reason is simple: the law prohibits PA iLottery from offering online slot machines. That term has a legal definition in this jurisdiction and elsewhere, and what PA iLottery is offering on their site doesn’t qualify. The PA iLottery is offering a lottery game. What the game “looks like” has no bearing on the matter whatsoever.

Complaints against the PA iLottery are completely empty of merit. Case closed.