Online Lottery Site’s Hasty Launch Violates PA Law

Opps! Expedited launch of iLottery website in PA permits illegal underage ‘demo’ play.

Expedited Launch of iLottery Website in PA permits Underage 'Demo' PlayThe legalization and regulation of online gambling in the US State of Pennsylvania has been in the works for a very long time now. It took years to get enough politicians onboard with the plan to pass the appropriate legislation. It’s taken another year to lay out the groundwork make licenses available to would-be operators. Now that things are finally coming to fruition, there’s already a major problem developing. In the state’s haste to launch its online lottery site, they forgot to dot a few of their i‘s.

In this case, the “i” stands for “illegal”. It turns out, the PA iLottery is in violation of some very important laws. Most notably, there’s no protocol in place to prevent minors from playing the games. They aren’t able to deposit or play for real money, but they can access the free “demo” play.

iLottery Website in PA Permits Illegal Underage Demo Play

The games in question are “casino-like” in nature. In fact, they are so akin to slot machines that several PA casinos have complained that they interfere with their exclusive right to provide online slot machine games on their own upcoming websites.

This could be a double whammy for the PA Lottery. Not only are they in violation of providing digital gambling games reserved specifically for the state’s licensed internet casinos, they’re granting access to the demo version of these games to children.

All of the game titles are displayed directly on the main page. Mouse over any one, and you’re given two options; ‘Join Now‘ or ‘Demo Play‘. Choosing demo does not require any form of identity verification. Simply pressing a button that indicates you are 18+ years of age grants access the games.

Online Lottery Site's Hasty Launch Violates PA Law

Despite being a demo version, players can still place wagers with fake money, and win or lose fake money on those bets. Because the experience mimics the entertainment of real money gambling, allowing minors to access them is a blatant breach of state law.

PA gambling regulators have been extremely harsh in their punishment of casinos that permit anyone under the age of 21 to access their casino floors. They’ve been adamant that once these casinos get their online gambling venues up and running, the penalties will be equally swift and harsh, should minors be able to access the digital games. Yet now, here we are, seeing a state-run online lottery site violating the very laws PA has been so vehement about upholding.

More Problems: Online Lottery Sites Games Mimic Casino Slots

Making matters even more complicated is the difference in legal age to play lottery games and casino games. In PA, anyone 18 years and up can play the lottery, but they must be 21+ to partake in casino gambling.

As mentioned above, casinos have already filed suit against the PA Lottery for offering games that imitate the look, feel, sound and game play of slot machines. Some of them even have the same names of physical slot machines found on the gaming floors of PA’s land-based casinos.

If these games are so akin to casino gambling, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they should only be played by individuals 21 and over, not just 18+? PA Lottery says no. The difference for games on the iLottery website is that the winning plays are not random, but predetermined, just like physical scratch off lottery tickets.

That may be enough to keep the titles available to 18 year old players. But if the court decides they mimic casino-style games, the online lottery site’s right to host them won’t last much longer anyway.

Why this Doesn’t Happen in Canada

How does a situation like this happen? It doesn’t—at least not here in Canada. Access by minors is prevented by requiring anyone and everyone to sign-up and log into an account before accessing any games, for real money or not.

Furthermore—and this has been a sore point for many Canadians—provincial online gambling sites are monopolized. This means there’s no competition between casinos. Finally, there’s a bright side to that, as no competition means no one to complain about infringing on anyone’s ‘exclusive’ game rights.

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