Netflix queues are being exhausted, families are losing their zest for Monopoly, and there’s only so much political news one can handle each day.
So why not kill the time gambling? Well, in Pennsylvania that’s exactly what a significant portion of the populace is doing, reflected in soaring online poker and casino revenue. Now, we’ve learned that online scratch-offs are also crushing, and that raises a major red flag.
These games suck.
In a recent press release, Scientific Games announced that the Pennsylvania online lottery has surpassed $1 billion in sales in just two years. (Scientific provides the platform for these atrocities). iLottery revenue is up a staggering 80% in the post-COVID19 world, and first-time sign-ups have climbed 200%. In total, Pennsylvania residents are spending an average of more than $3 million a day on iLotto tickets.
We have no issue with players spending a few bucks on Mega Millions and Powerball tickets online. It’s these predatory digital instant win games that have us slamming our heads against the keyboard.
Brothers and sisters from Pennsylvania: There are so many better options than this drivel, which cost players roughly three times more per dollar spent than an average online slot.
What the heck is a digital instant game?
Digital instant, or eInstant, games, are meant to be virtual representations of the lottery scratch-offs players can buy at retail outlets.
Except online, they are visually striking, can be played much faster across different stakes, and boast a variety of bonus features. There’s even spinning reels.
Sound familiar? If you said to yourself, “these sound an awful lot like slot machines,” congrats, you’re correct. Technology affords developers the ability to transform traditional scratch-offs into a slight (and we do mean, slight) variation of online slots. The similarities are so striking, that in 2019, a coalition of Pennsylvania casinos lobbied to run eInstant games out of town. It didn’t work.
But maybe the worst part about digital instant wins is that 18-year-olds can play them, whereas the minimum age to wager at an online gambling site is 21. Protect those credit cards, mom and dad.
In fact, the only upshot of this dredge is that lottery revenue supports critical programs for older Pennsylvanian citizens. And the iLotto will be sure to remind you of that 60 times every time you log in.
The worst returns
Get ready for this. The average eInstant game features a return-to-player that averages around 86%. Winning titles like Lucky Peggs (WTF?) stick it to you with returns of under 84%, while this year’s nominee for most innovative gaming concept, Grumpy Cat, offers a “generous” 87.03% return.
That’s bad. Real bad. Just for perspective, consider that the state-mandated return for slot machines is 85%, meaning that these thinly veiled slot machines are getting away with highway robbery just by classifying themselves as lottery tickets.
Even Pennsylvania’s brick & mortar slots, which are notorious for their terrible payouts, return heaps more than eInstant games. And compared to online slots, well, there really is no comparison, with the PA iGaming industry returning 95.2% on slot wagers for FY 2019-20.
In states like Michigan, where the online lottery is currently the only game in Internet town, throwing a few bucks on Foxin’ Wins Reveal or Big Money Slingo is a bit more justified, especially if the intention is just to have a little fun. In Pennsylvania, it’s inexcusable, as players have a slew of better options at their disposal.
Is the Pennsylvania iLotto bonus worth playing?
Nope. Nada. Not even close.
The PA iLotto offers a 100% up to $250 deposit match to new players. The rollover requirement on the bonus is 10x the deposit plus bonus amount, which is really just a fancy way of saying 20x the deposit. This works out to a 5% cashback rate, elevating these pathetic 87% return games to 92% … temporarily.
All this is to say, you still have a better chance of going busto with a bonus at the PA iLotto than without one at a regulated PA online gambling site.
We have no fancy whims to go out on, no catharsis: Just don’t play these games.