The West Virginia Lottery will soon launch an online lottery through a partnership with NeoPollard Interactive LLC (NPI), though there is no firm launch date as yet. NPI is jointly owned by PollardBanknote Limited, and NeoGames S.A. NPI will provide West Virginia with a turn-key iLottery System, including a mobile app and integrated omnichannel Player Loyalty Program. The contract will last for 10 years, with the lottery holding the option to extend it for an additional year.
Lottery players in the state will be able to buy their draw tickets and play eInstant games online using their mobile device or desktop computer. The latter resemble digital scratch tickets, though some have almost slots-like bonus features. States that have legalized online lotteries vary in their adoption of eInstants, with some states embracing the interactive games and others sticking to draw sales only.
For instance, Connecticut and New Jersey also expect to launch online lotteries soon but won’t include eInstants. Like West Virginia, they have legal online casinos.
West Virginia’s iLottery will utilize technology by NPI, including:
- NeoGames’ NeoSphere player account management system
- NewDraw, a central gaming system for draw games
- NeoEngage customer engagement platform
- Pollard Banknote’s playON Player Engagement Platform, which will extend the current lottery Player’s Circle loyalty program
Lottery players will have access to NeoGames’ portfolio of games, which includes around 70 titles. Games include Keno, a blackjack eInstant, and themes likely to be familiar to slots players, like wild buffalo, Egyptian mythology, “luck of the Irish,” and more.
Users will be able to play all the games on the mobile app as well. In addition, the app will allow them to access a variety of features, including:
- Check whether their ticket is a winner
- Collect and redeem loyalty points
- Learn about current lottery games
- Find the nearest lottery retailer
- Receive jackpot alerts and promotional information
NPI will also provide customer service and implement other features to increase player engagement and state revenue. West Virginia lottery sales currently amount to around $1.1 billion annually. Proceeds benefit the state’s education system, senior services, and tourism.
Most States With Online Casinos Will Have Online Lottery
With the West Virginia announcement, Delaware will become the only state with legal online casinos and no online lottery. Michigan and Pennsylvania paved the way years ago. Meanwhile, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Connecticut are in the process of rolling out their iLotteries.
Of the three awaiting launch, Connecticut was the first to announce plans. The state legalized online draw tickets and Keno in 2021 but did not make any progress toward launching. That changed in June when Connecticut announced it would introduce iLottery in “late fall” this year.
However, players might have to wait longer than anticipated, as the Connecticut Lottery announced the launch will be delayed due to quality control issues.
New Jersey lottery players will also have to wait until an online option is available. The New Jersey Lottery Commission (NJLC) approved an online lottery in August, almost a year after it was proposed. It will likely take at least two years from the proposal to launch. NJLC tentatively set the launch for the fall of 2024, allowing itself enough time to figure out details, such as a partner. What we know is that, like Connecticut, there will be no eInstants.
Rhode Island—which will launch online casinos next year—has taken the opposite tack, offering eInstants but no online sales of draw tickets. It’s unique among states in that regard.
States With iGaming Taking Different Approaches to eInstants
While most iGaming states are embracing online draw ticket sales, they’re divided about eInstants. Connecticut and New Jersey will not have them. Meanwhile, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia offer or will offer them. The reason New Jersey and Connecticut have opted out of eInstants could be the worry that they might cut into online slots revenue.
In particular, Connecticut created its online lottery while granting online casino gaming to the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. That was the bargaining chip required to have the tribes agree to share sports betting with the lottery. Pitting their new online casinos against eInstants as well might have been a bridge too far.
Pennsylvania and Michigan’s online lotteries predate their online casinos. So, West Virginia will provide our first glimpse of what happens to online casino revenue when eInstants arrive. However, Michigan offers circumstantial evidence that online casinos pull revenue away from eInstants, so the converse may also be true.
All other states with eInstants have seen online lottery revenues grow exponentially year to year. For instance, Kentucky’s online lottery revenue has increased more than tenfold in three years, from $17.4 million in fiscal year 2019 to $226.1 million in 2022.
Michigan was on the same trajectory until shortly after it launched online casinos in 2021. Then, eInstants saw a revenue drop of 20% for the fiscal year ending on Sep. 2022, which is the latest available data. Retail instant tickets also saw a decline, but only 2.7%. Michigan lottery officials have said direct competition from online casinos and sportsbooks is one of the reasons. On the other hand, Michigan online casinos have been sustaining annual growth rates of more than 20%.
Pennsylvania also saw a decline in draw tickets over the past two years. The state doesn’t separate its online and retail sales, but scratch-off tickets have dropped from 70.87% of total income in 2021 to 67.18% in 2023. Meanwhile, draw tickets’ share of income has increased.