Pennsylvania Lottery Officials Credit Online Games for Strong Fiscal Year

Posted on: July 20, 2020, 01:50h. 

Last updated on: July 20, 2020, 03:11h.

The Pennsylvania Lottery is one of only eight lotteries that is allowed to facilitate online games, and those internet operations have proved critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pennsylvania Lottery online games
The Pennsylvania Lottery enjoyed a prosperous 2019-20 fiscal year and has managed to continue pulling in revenue during the pandemic by way of online games. (Image: Pennsylvania Department of General Services)

Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko says that while the agency hasn’t yet published its 2019-20 fiscal year report, revenue and profit was just 0.06 percent shy of the prior year — which was the state’s all-time best 12-month performance since the first lottery ticket was sold in the Commonwealth back in 1972. 

During an interview with NPR Pittsburgh, Svitko says online lottery game sales have soared some 25 percent during the health crisis.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) began ordering nonessential businesses to close, including many lottery retailers, such as bars and restaurants, in March. The state has largely reopened, albeit in new ways. Bars and restaurants are currently limited to 25 percent capacity.

Online Safety Net

Svitko says online games represented a small percentage of the lottery’s sales in the pre-COVID-19 world. But as businesses closed and residents shuttered, internet game revenue jumped. 

The Pennsylvania Lottery official says about 30 percent of the lottery’s retail partners were forced to close at some point over the last four months. And Svitko explains that new online players often become in-story lottery players, too.

Our online play helps us create a better relationship with players. Those players go into retail stores and are more attracted to our products and more likely to play,” Svitko stated.

The Pennsylvania Lottery benefits older Pennsylvanians, including funding for senior centers and meals, low-cost prescription assistance, free and reduced-fare transportation, care services, and property tax and rent rebates.

More than $4.5 billion worth of lottery games were purchased during the 2018-19 fiscal year. After paying out winnings and covering lottery bureau expenses, the games of chance won over $1.14 billion for the senior programs.

Gaming Key in Keystone State

Pennsylvania legalized online lottery games through the state’s far-reaching gaming expansion package signed by Wolf in 2017. Along with the online lottery, the legislation authorized as many as 12 satellite casinos — each with up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games — online gambling, video gaming terminals (VGTs) inside certain truck stops, airport slot machines, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports. 

The PA iLottery went live in May of 2018, allowing players 18 years of age or older to play online. Interactive games offer prizes up to $250,000. Pennsylvania was the seventh state to sell online lottery games.

In August of that same year, the Pennsylvania Lottery added another asset to its portfolio by debuting Xpress Sports car racing and football. These games allow players to watch animated depictions of a random outcome that occurs every few minutes. The game results are based on Keno and can be commonly found inside bars and restaurants where people congregate.

The Pennsylvania Lottery also began selling Powerball and Mega Millions tickets online in January of 2020, just before the pandemic struck the US.