History of Pennsylvania Lottery
The Pennsylvania Lottery has been a significant part of the state's fabric since its inception in 1972. Established primarily to support the state's senior citizens, the lottery has consistently used its proceeds to fund various programs aimed at aiding the elderly.
The landscape of lottery and gambling in Pennsylvania saw a pivotal shift with the US Department of Justice's legal interpretation of the Wire Act in December 2011. This interpretation, which limited the Wire Act's application to sports betting, opened the door for the expansion of lottery sales into the online realm.
A significant development in October 2017, Pennsylvania legislators enacted a comprehensive bill to expand gambling, notably including the authorization for online lottery sales. This legislative change paved the way for the introduction of the PA iLottery, which officially debuted on June 1, 2018. The launch of the PA iLottery marked a new era in the state's lottery history, bringing the games into the digital age and making them more accessible to a broader audience.
The impact of the PA Lottery, especially the PA iLottery, extends beyond just entertainment. The profits generated from lottery sales play a crucial role in supporting the state's elderly population. In the fiscal year 2018-19 alone, the PA Lottery profits contributed over $1.14 billion to programs for Pennsylvania seniors. This substantial financial support underscores the lottery's vital role in the state's social fabric.
A substantial part, about 78%, of the budget for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging is sourced from lottery revenues, playing a vital role in sustaining and enhancing the department's diverse programs and services. Additionally, the Office of Long-Term Living receives about 4% of its funding from the lottery. The PA Lottery's contributions are not limited to financial support; it fully funds essential services like shared and free-ride services for seniors, demonstrating its commitment to the well-being of Pennsylvania's older residents.
The oversight of the Pennsylvania Lottery, including its online sales, falls under the purview of the PA House of Representatives’ Gaming Oversight Committee. This committee ensures that the lottery operates with integrity, transparency, and in accordance with state regulations, maintaining the trust and confidence of the public.