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Pennsylvania Lottery wins Instant Games dispute

2nd June 2021 9:49 am GMT
Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has upheld the Pennsylvania Lottery’s right to offer online instant games after rejecting a legal challenge by the state’s casino industry.

The casinos had argued that these games breached the Lottery Act by simulating casino-style slot machines through the use of random number generators to determine winning outcomes and game themes similar to those found in casinos.

This was rejected by the court, which ruled last week that none of the features of instant games, also known as e-Instants, were signature, iconic, or key features particular to casino slot machines.

The court said that the features in question relate to technological advances in online gaming and are based on online entertainment and gaming, as well as existing entertainment sources like television and board games, which have indisputably inspired both e-Instant and slot machine game designers. It also found that they existed in the same or similar fashion in traditional lottery products that were translated into a new online medium.

The court added that spinning reels and pay lines are signature, iconic, or key features particular to casino slot machines, none of which are present in e-Instants.

“We are extremely pleased that the court agreed with the Lottery’s position that its internet instant games are lottery games, and do not simulate casino-style games,” said Drew Svitko, executive director of the Pennsylvania Lottery. “As we argued before the court, the Lottery operates in accordance with the law and it was clearly the intent of the General Assembly to allow the Lottery and casinos to co-exist in the online space. The Lottery was authorized to offer digital games of chance, which are not limited only to digital representations of physical instant tickets.”

“The casinos’ attempt to effectively eliminate the Commonwealth’s iLottery program was a cynical effort to knock out a competitor, solely in the interest of increasing profits,” added Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The Judge’s order to dismiss this case means the $170 million generated by the Pennsylvania iLottery program can be used to fund essential services to benefit older Pennsylvanians—services which my office will continue to defend.”

Rhydian Fisher, CEO of lottery supplier Instant Win Gaming, said: “We are very happy with this recent judgement confirming that e-Instants are distinctly lottery. Starting with the very first e-Instant that we delivered back in 2001 through to the many hundreds that we delivered in 2020 alone, we have always been very deliberate to only develop games that are specifically lottery in both how they work and how they play. Therefore, we never doubted for even a moment that the e-Instants we provide to the Pennsylvania Lottery fall cleanly within their authorization under Act 42.

“Of course, we are gratified that the Court came to the correct conclusion,” Fisher added. “This is a great success for the Pennsylvania Lottery, the Lottery industry generally, and e-Instants specifically. It provides further confidence that we can continue to advance the iLottery category, and the digitization of instant games.”

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