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Are experiences the key to getting millennials to play lottery?

| By Stephen Carter | Reading Time: 5 minutes
Zeal’s Lottovate has today launched a lottery that gives players experiences rather than cash prizes. Will it attract the elusive younger generation?

Zeal’s Lottovate has today launched a lottery that gives players experiences rather than cash prizes. Will it attract the elusive younger generation, asks Joanne Christie?

For most igaming firms no generation has proven more elusive than millennials.

Lotteries, in particular, have struggled to find a way to connect with the younger generation, even when they’ve developed digital offerings in a bid to adapt to changing consumer shopping habits.

Take the UK’s National Lottery, for example. The Gambling Commission’s 2017 annual report on gambling participation showed that while those aged 25-34 saw the biggest increase in online gambling participation, they were playing the lottery less.

A similar lack of enthusiasm for lotteries among millennials has also been noted in the US.

But digital lottery company Lottovate, owned by Zeal Network, thinks it may have found a way to attract this age group to lottery – by providing experiences instead of cash prizes.

Its new Dutch lottery, the first new lottery for the country in nearly 30 years, is being described by the company as the world’s first “experience” lottery, so called because instead of players winning prizes, they win experiences.

Raffld’s front page even boasts the tagline, “F’ck money. Make Memories”, a clear call to action for a demographic regularly reported to be more interested in funding travel than saving for a house or a pension.

Experiences over things
Numerous studies have revealed that millennials value experiences over things, so much so that many have taken to referring to them as NOwners. Taken in this context, perhaps an experience lottery has potential.

With Raffld, rather than buying a ticket for a chance to win cash, players choose from one of four prize categories — 360 adventure, city all access, bucketlist tickets and recharge break.

The winner and three friends then set off on experiences such as sandboarding in Morocco or the La Tomatina tomato fight in Valencia, depending on which category they’ve chosen.

Peter-Paul de Goeij, managing director of Lottovate Netherlands, says the prizes were devised after extensive research was undertaken and interviews conducted with more than 1,000 millennials in the Netherlands.

“What we did is, when we got the licence we basically threw away all the ideas that we had and said, ‘OK, let’s first speak to some consumers’.

We asked them very general questions like, ‘what is your view on life, what do you think is important, would you support charities, do you ever play the lottery, if not why not’.

“With the results of those over 1,000 interviews we took out the four basic elements of the answers that we’d been given by these Dutch millennials and these four elements led to Raffld.”

Looking at the results of their research, it’s clear the company needed to come up with something different.

The interviews, conducted by Ruigrok NetPanel for Lottovate, found that 62% played the lottery twice a year or less, whereas 85% said experiences made them more happy than money.

It is undoubtedly difficult to entice the millennial generation into lotteries, says de Goeij, but doing so is vital if the vertical is to survive in future.

“All lotteries know that this is the toughest group to crack because it doesn’t really matter where you go, the average age of the lottery player is older than this age bracket.

“The average lottery player in the Netherlands is older than 50 years, which is, in comparison, quite old.

“There is another troubling development worldwide in that the average age of the lottery player is rising.

“Of course it is because people are growing older but there will be a moment when they die and that of course is the troubling thing, because if you don’t watch it your players might die out.

“Every lottery worldwide wants to tap into this demographic but no one has been really successful in cracking the code.

“Getting millennials to play the lottery sounds very hard but we think we’ve approached it from the right angle, which is starting with the needs of the millennial and building a lottery product that is relevant to them.”

Overcoming the charity hurdle
Lottovate has something of an added challenge in that it not only has to get millennials interested in lottery, but it has to get them interested in donating to charity.

Its research found that more than half of those surveyed donated to charities only once every six months or less.

But as part of licence conditions, it has to donate 50% of the cost of every ticket to good causes.

One way it hopes to inspire millennials is by giving them the ability to choose where their funds go – as well as picking a prize category, players choose from one of four charities.

At present, the options are the Ronald McDonald Children's Fund, KNGF Guide Dogs, Conservation International and the CliniClowns.

But de Goeij says they are open to adding more in future and have already been asked by players to do so.

Adding in this element of choice may have been a savvy move, if a discussion during a panel at ICE earlier this year is anything to go by.

The Modernising Lotteries panel included Lottovate’s Susan Standiford, along with the Health Lottery’s Yakir Firestane, former European Lotteries president Friedrich Stickler and LOT.TO co-founder Julian Bewley.

The panelists agreed that when considering whether or not to play a lottery, for players the prize money was a bigger incentive than supporting charity.

However, they also agreed that the good causes element of lotteries could be more engaging to players if they were given more choice about where there funds went.

Standiford told the panel: “Everybody in general wants to see transparency where that charitable cause goes.

“They would love to have the choice but in the very least they need to understand it is not this amorphic black hole of charitable good causes that things go into.

“They really want to see that. Purpose-driven is the goal of this [Millennial] generation.”

Another panellist cited a Mintel report that had asked people what it would take for them to play a different lottery to the National Lottery — among the reasons given had been the chance to have their charity donation go somewhere of their choice.

There’s also a social element to the Raffld proposition. Instead of entering alone and choosing three friends to take if they win, players can enter with a group of three friends, which will increase their odds of winning.

The company has not yet given detail on the odds themselves, with de Goeij saying only that, “the odds will vary per week because we cannot predict the number of participants per week.

“Currently the odds are very good because of the fact we are a start-up. Every week there will be one major prize paid out”.

Presumably if the lottery takes off the company will look to increase the number of experiences given away each week, though at this point de Goeij says it is too early to speculate on this.

Presumably it may also look to roll the ‘experience’ model out to other nations in some form, though for now the company says it is firmly focused on the Netherlands.

Even if it doesn’t expand outside the Netherlands, if it proves successful, it’s likely other lottery innovators will do so. If giving away experiences turns out to be the way to millennials’ hearts it certainly won’t go unnoticed in the igaming community.

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