Pennsylvania is all set to become the next state in the USA to offer online lottery games to residents. Lawmakers passed a massive gambling expansion bill last year approving online lottery games in addition to legalizing online casino games, poker, fantasy sports and potentially even online sports betting depending on the federal legislation.
Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law in October, but it will be some time before Pennsylvanians are able to gamble online as lawmakers must now draft regulations governing the games and licensing process. Of the new forms of gaming that have been authorized, online lottery is likely to be the first to go live.
According to local media, the first online lottery games offered by the state could go live by this spring. All proceeds generated by the new online lottery games will be directed to the state lottery fund benefiting good causes for senior citizens in Pennsylvania. State officials report the lottery has donated more than $1 billion per year to those good causes over the last six years and expect big things from the addition of online lotto games.
The state lottery has yet to determine exactly which games will be offered online, but one lottery official said they expect the new online games to generate up to $250 million in new revenues to support benefits for older Pennsylvanians over the first five years.
Projections of $250 million within five years may sound optimistic, but gaming industry reporter Steve Ruddock believes that is an entirely realistic number based on figures released by other states that have already legalized online lottery games.
The key, he reports, is for the Pennsylvania lottery to follow Michigan’s example. Michigan legalized online lottery sales in 2014 and earned revenues of more than $50 million per year over its first three years. This includes just $18.5 million over its first year in action and nearly $100 million in 2017.
Pennsylvania putting up similar numbers is not an overly optimistic projection when we consider Pennsylvania has an even larger population than Michigan and will be offering a wide range of online lottery products.
Can I play the Pennsylvania lottery online?
We’d like to get ahead of a question we anticipate becoming more common as word spreads of Pennsylvania’s new online lottery games. If you live in Pennsylvania and are 18 or older, you will be able to participate in drawings and purchase instant win tickets online at the official PA online lottery.
If you live elsewhere, you will be unable to buy tickets online through the official website. State lotteries in the US are regulated independently by each state, which means Pennsylvania cannot invite residents of other states to play online.
That does not necessarily preclude independent lottery sites from offering to buy PA lottery tickets on your behalf or allowing you to bet on the outcome of the lottery. There is still nothing stopping lottery sites headquartered outside the United States from adding the Pennsylvania lottery to their product portfolios.
However, that seems unlikely. State lotteries are not covered to any great extent by any of the major lottery sites we recommend. A handful of sites do cover the New York and California lotteries due to both of those being such large and popular drawings, but that’s about the extent of state-level offerings online.
If you’re interested in US lotteries, you can check out any major lottery provider to participate in major drawings such as Powerball and Mega Millions in addition to the smaller New York and California lotteries. Pennsylvania will likely be unavailable to non-residents for quite some time, but there are still plenty of alternatives of all sizes to choose from online.