Big Question

By Gambling Insider
How have state lotteries embraced mobile solutions?

Sotirios Sklavounos, customer experience director, Intralot Group

In the last five years, we have experienced a quantum leap in online offerings in all areas of commerce. According to 2019/20 data from Foresight Factory consumer trends, 77.4% of global consumers shopped online, whereas 64% shopped via smartphone at least on a monthly basis.

According to the same study for US consumers, monthly shopping via smartphone leapt from 31% in 2015 to 57% in 2019. Nevertheless, despite this proliferation of online shopping, traditional lottery is still lagging compared to other market categories like consumer goods, travel, video games and even online betting. PricewaterhouseCoopers has indicated in a recent report that the penetration of online betting can range from twice (UK) to 20 times (Spain) or 40 times (Italy) the respective penetration of online lottery.

The reasons for the slower pace of the adaptation of online lottery from state lotteries are mainly due to; regulation that prohibits the online purchase of lottery tickets; the product characteristics: lottery products and especially draw-based games are more traditional and are perceived to have less potential for innovation; the existing relation with the retail network that drives the vast majority of revenue for state lotteries; and a customer base that is more conservative, generally older than the other gambling categories (such as betting or casino) and much more retail-oriented.

Ironically enough, the biggest advocate of online lottery operations is the Covid-19 pandemic that is forcing governments to implement country-wide lockdowns. According to LaFleur, US lotteries that offer iLottery witnessed in the first quarter of 2020 an increase of 47% in internet revenues and 50% in e-instant revenues. Additionally, new customer registration skyrocketed (for example, the New Hampshire lottery reported a 58% increase in player registrations and a 110% increase in first-time depositors).

In all the cases where state lotteries have embraced online operations, mobile solutions have played a major role. Either through a mobile web portal or through the launch of mobile applications, the majority of online operation of the lottery comes (as expected) from the mobile channel. This is spearheaded by the presence of electronic instants and fast draw games (like Keno) that, based on their characteristics and game mechanics, are a perfect fit for on-the-go gaming. In all lottery operations that have launched an online solution using Intralot's Digital Lottery Solution, the mobile channel accounts for more than 60% of online revenues.

Of course, launching a mobile solution either using an app or a mobile website is not always a straightforward task. Lottery customers are already accustomed to using mobile apps from companies like Amazon, that offer a tailor-made superb shopping experience, so they will not compromise with anything less. In addition, the restrictions posed by Apple for gambling apps require a purely native implementation and not just a wrapped mobile website (which used to be common practice to quickly launch an app). On the other hand, Google has relaxed its restrictions on the Play Store, allowing the publication of real money gambling apps in 19 countries. That is why we have built our Mobile Lottery solution ready to address all these challenges. A set of purely native apps for iOS and Android along with a state-of-the-art ecosystem for Content and Player Account Management, Payments and Push notifications & Campaign Management.

Nevertheless, there are still many Lotteries that do not have the ability to launch real money online and mobile solutions due to regulatory restrictions (especially in the US). These Lotteries – in their attempt to also approach younger demographics as well as enhance customer retention and loyalty – have launched “companion” mobile applications, which customers can use to prepare their playslips.

Our ScanNPlay solution enables a touchless journey, where players use our native mobile application to select any lottery game, prepare their playslips electronically, securely submit the playslips on the retail store, pay with a set of contactless payment methods and receive the ticket on their mobile device. This journey not only enhances player engagement, loyalty and sense of security, but also educates players and prepares them for the next step, which would be a real money gaming app when it   will be allowed by new regulation.

Lotteries and regulators, under the pressure of the current global situation, have picked up the pace and are embracing mobile solutions either as real money gaming apps or as companion apps, offering to their players new and exciting ways towards participation in games, and embarking on new journeys of experience and growth.

 

Sotiris Sklavounos, customer experience director, digital sales
Sotiris is the director for digital customer experience at Intralot, having responsibility for customer interaction and journeys via all online channels. Prior to that, he led the product management team for all online and mobile Intralot products.

 

Alessandro Mastropasqua, head of corporate marketing & press communication, Custom S.p.A.

Until now, state lotteries have adopted traditional technical systems, or solutions such as all-in-one terminals, or combinations of PCs and printers. Only in particular cases, thinking of continents like Africa or South America, where geographical and economic situations bring the necessity of a “movement towards clients,” we see the infrastructure is lacking as there are very few lottery and betting points, as well as difficult transportation methods. But mobile solutions have been until now adopted.

Now that the global pandemic has completely changed rules and habits, rumours concerning mobile potential application in state lotteries have returned; both for a generational reason to catch new markets with younger people more used to and attracted by mobile solutions, smartphones and tablets, and to guarantee people distancing due to hygiene measures required to fight the pandemic. Today “digital transformation” is not a differentiating element, but the minimum essential element to be competitive: social distance and maximum attention to hygiene are the two main aspects at the base of all markets. For these reasons mobile solutions will be the main characters for the next six months in all sectors; so why not in the lottery and betting field?

Covid-19 has upended market habits, and we have had to react accordingly, so all digital and self-service solutions saw an important acceleration. These are the realities as we maximise different expertise and transversal solutions given to the gaming and betting market to help with players, workers, employees and governments.

Offering technology to support gaming, lottery and betting, and to support the consumer, is the goal we have always pursued. The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted retail to evolve traditional stores towards greater interaction between online and offline; and the same, we think, is going on also in gaming, lottery and betting between digital platforms and physical betting stores. The way of the future is an integrated solution capable of increasing information and content to enjoy a unique, specialised gaming experience. We have improved hardware with easy-to-use technologies, with the most innovative augmented reality experience. Nowadays, augmented reality is seen as highly technological support from both a commercial and corporate viewpoint. It’s a genuine tool that should be included in business strategies that increasingly have to deal with highly competitive markets such as gaming, lottery and betting.

As a result, we have the ability to develop technology in-house and customise it based on client needs. It is essential to understand the technology best suited to the target and then, as a result, to choose how to overlay multimedia elements onto the real world. Genuine and innovative solutions to: provide extra content, present new products, introduce specific promotions and even to interact with the services while ensuring optimised costs, continuous training and an “always-on” service is the road map going forward. The resulting effects can be used to increase business and create customer loyalty; but also as part of promotional communication and social networks like Instagram Stories.

 

Alessandro Mastropasqua has worked with international companies in different fields (finance, hi-tech, pharmaceutical and sport). Today he works for Custom, a group of technological companies with an international presence and a large engineering footprint. He supervises all strategic and operational marketing and communication activities related to the group (corporate activities, media relations, events, exhibitions, sponsorships, websites & social network).

 

Yariv Sarig, head of sales & business development at NeoGames S.A.

Digital technologies have changed and expanded the lottery market, with lotteries offering online and mobile solutions while exploring ways to capture new audience demographics and enable new experiences.

Mobile solutions offer easy accessibility and convenience that online gamers have come to demand – and lotteries are responding to this as part of their ongoing commitment to improving the player experience. By doing so, lotteries are expanding their player base, maximising revenues, and increasing the funds going towards good causes, as well as state/nationwide programs and local communities.

Lottery players have already embraced online and mobile purchasing platforms, with high consumer demand. In fact, in some lotteries, we see that more than 70% of all sales are conducted through mobile we band dedicated apps.

To strengthen their presence in this arena, lotteries have learned how to integrate a range  of experiences and possibilities to provide their players with new and improved added value and cross-channel activities. They are putting a lot of thought and effort into developing ways to communicate and engage with their players via the mobile channel, as well as offering exciting new games.

Lotteries have learned how to use the mobile channel as the ultimate omnichannel tool, to extend beyond an online iLottery sales channel and open the door to new opportunities. This can take different forms, as lotteries strive to draw more players, offering an enhanced mobile experience with a wide range of options. Some lotteries offer full portal apps that include all their games, while others may offer dedicated apps per vertical, for example lottery games or sports. 

Lotteries are also finding innovative ways to connect between retail and online, creating a bridge between these worlds using mobile apps. Many lotteries offer ticket scanning on mobile apps for retail draw games and instant games, to check for winning tickets and, in some cases, to collect loyalty points. One solution enables players to scan and save their ticket in the mobile app, so it will not get lost. Mobile tracking options are a great advantage for players, offering the ability to check the status of their tickets by themselves, in private, anytime, and anywhere. Another mobile-based offering is a digital playslip, immediate and accessible, enabling the player to complete the ticket purchase at a retail point-of-sale. Dedicated mobile games played on an app as an extension of a retail instant game enhance the entertainment value and extend player engagement, going beyond the offerings of solely online gaming sites; providing lotteries with a unique advantage and added value.

With the continuous challenges of staying ahead of the game and maintaining an edge in online gaming across all channels, accessible mobile solutions offer another way to evolve, expand, innovate, and enhance the digital gaming experience and player engagement. Not only do lotteries understand this, but in many cases, they are leading this.

 

Yariv Sarig has been with NeoGames since 2009. He’s responsible for the company’s international sales, business development, channel management and account management. His work puts him in contact with lotteries, industry suppliers and game studios around the world.

 

Will Whitehead, associate director – accounts, mkodo

Regulated lotteries have provided tailored and bespoke mobile experiences since the early 2010s. Back then, having a great mobile product, in particular a native app, was seen as a bit of a luxury item and a nice-to-have marketing tool. Now, the mobile app is a key channel for customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. The mobile app should provide a great gaming experience, easy access to game play and the ability to purchase tickets, play casino, place a bet etc; while also appealing to the ‘softer’ gamer, offering non-transactional features, such as ticket scanner or check to see if you’re a winner.

The arrival of mobile solutions for lotteries has opened many doors for increased customer engagement and has transformed the way players interact with lotteries. Before these mobile solutions, a typical lottery customer would purchase a ticket in a retail store and that would be it, no further personalised engagement was possible. This is no longer the case.

As mobile technology and solutions advanced and evolved over the past 10 years, lottery retailers had seen this as a threat to their brick and mortar products. However, the mobile device can be a great partner to the retail experience. By offering features such as the ability to build a ticket on your mobile, and generate a barcode for in-retail purchase or Bluetooth and beacon marketing technology within the retail environment, retailers are embracing the transition and partnership between mobile and retail more than ever.

Lotteries have also leveraged mobile solutions to cross-sell between verticals. Before digital offerings were available, it was very difficult to offer a classical retail lottery customer entertainment via casino or sportsbook engagement. They were different customers, a different target audience. However, utilising mobile technology, lotteries are in a much better position to cross-sell between different product verticals, e.g. lottery customers to instant win players, to casino players, or encourage sports bettors to buy a tick when a large jackpot banner is being promoted on the sportsbook home screen.

Android and Apple invest millions of dollars and thousands of hours, every year, in researching and developing the best UX, UI and navigational practices on mobile devices. In total, 90% of people’s time spent on a mobile phone is spent on apps. Lotteries are starting to recognise this and acknowledge they themselves must invest in mobile apps that utilise these powerhouse Operating Systems features, and functionality to ensure they are providing their customers with the best possible experience. Core features of a lottery app, such as ticket scanner, ticket purchase, biometric login, playing games and receiving push notifications, are no longer a nice-to-have, but an absolute must-have. Apple and Android also provide innovative features which lotteries can take advantage of, e.g. home screen widgets now offering the ability for lotteries to promote the jackpot value on the home screen of your phone, without the need to even open the app.

A key benefit of enhanced mobile offerings that lotteries can utilise is ensuring lottery products are more easily accessible to those players with disabilities. Mobile sites and apps are now much more versatile and set up in a framework that employs accessibility design across the portfolio, often making purchase significantly easier than in the retail store. Mkodo is a thought leader on accessibility design within the lottery sector and is passionate about its clients’ customers having the highest standards of accessibility design, so that lottery can be enjoyed by everyone who is eligible.

Mobile has also supported lottery’s key goal of ensuring customers are playing responsibly. Digital channel products can incorporate responsible gaming tools (such as session limits, deposit limits and voluntary self-exclusion) and make these tools very easy to engage with. Lotteries now have more data and analytics than ever on their player activity, demographics and customer behaviour. This helps drive and prioritise lottery innovation and product road map, as well as recognising potentially vulnerable customers and ensuring appropriate action is taken to support them.

 

Will Whitehead, associate director – accounts, mkodo, joined mkodo shortly after graduating from the University of Western England. He has developed deep experience by progressing through the ranks from being an account executive to heading up the account management department at mkodo and joining mkodo's leadership team in early 2020. Will is passionate about the betting, gaming and lottery industry, particularly with regards to innovation, front-end products and excellent user experience.

At mkodo, we are lottery mobile specialists. We design and develop apps and mobile experiences for regulated lotteries, across the globe. We are passionate about partnering with our regulated lottery clients to utilise the latest technology and best practice UX design, to provide engaging experiences to their customers and help raise further monies for good causes.

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