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‘Fundamentally, lottery is about dreams’

| By Hannah Gannage-Stewart | Reading Time: 3 minutes
 Wendy Lawrence on innovation and the expansion of digital lottery

Totally Gaming Academy trainer Wendy Lawrence on what people can expect from the Lottery Academy course, industry innovation and the expansion of digital lottery

iGaming Business: What aspects of the lottery industry is this course designed to cover and who would benefit from attending?
Wendy Lawrence: The Lottery Academy is an introduction to the sector: think of it as a 101 “least you should know” guide aimed at those who want to boost their knowledge quickly. This could be people new to the industry, regulators, potential suppliers to the lottery industry, lottery entrepreneurs, or lottery professionals wanting to step outside of their own operation and explore new ideas within a like-minded group.

We cover a lot of material including the history of lottery, the size of the global market, the operational models and key players, the alternative lottery market, with a deeper dive into key game types (draw/scratch/interactive), and channels to market (retail and digital).

The course offers a world overview of the industry. Which jurisdictions currently hold the most promise for lottery, and why?
I think that the potential of digital lottery sales in the US is very exciting at the moment. The US state lotteries have been very slow to get interactive and so far only a handful have made that step, but some ,such as Michigan, are starting to see great rewards for their innovation with interactive instant win games.

The evidence is now there to show the upside of interactive, and to eliminate concerns about the impact on retail, so the potential for other state lotteries to introduce digital is huge. For more traditional lottery sales, South America and Africa are very underrepresented in the global figures, so there is massive potential for the expansion of tried and tested draw and scratchcard games.

What has the growing popularity of alternative lottery models done for the vertical as a whole?
It took a while but the regulated lottery market has finally woken up to the threat of alternative models such as the betting/insured companies. Ultimately, providing an identical player experience but cutting out the official ticket/lottery potentially undermines overall lottery revenues and returns to good causes.

As such, countries such as the UK and Australia have legislated to prevent this style of betting on country-facing games. What intrigues me is that this has made companies such as Lottoland innovate further with new game development to replace those revenues, and this is to be welcomed.

In addition, I think that companies offering services such as syndicates are bringing new ideas to a relatively static sector and should be congratulated. We need more innovation to shake up the complacency of the state/national monopolies. However, only time will tell as to whether these are commercial successes over the long term.

What key takeaways can participants on the course hope to walk away with at the end of day two?
My primary ambition is for all participants to identify new opportunities for their own business, whether that be in new game ideas, new routes to market or a better understanding of how to work within the lottery industry more efficiently. 

You’ve worked on both the operator and supplier side of the industry. Which side is doing the most to innovate lottery offerings at present?
Without doubt the suppliers. Traditional lotteries are often state departments that move slowly and are risk averse. It is to the credit of suppliers, such as Neogames in the interactive instant win arena ,that they have invested significant time and money developing new ideas that are now bearing fruit. You have to be prepared to play a potentially long game if you want to get innovation into the lottery market.

I am delighted that with the expansion of digital lottery there is a greater potential for new, smaller suppliers to get into the market in areas such as game development/apps and interactive lottery systems.

What have been the most significant changes to the lottery market over the course of your career?
I can think of three. Firstly, the cross-state and country collaboration that led to the introduction of multi-jurisdictional games such as Powerball and Euromillions. These redefined the notion of a jackpot and put the excitement back into draw games with life-changing possibilities. Secondly, the expansion of lottery into digital, which has enabled lotteries to meet player demand for convenience, expand the player base and drive incremental sales, even if its full potential for new game experiences is not yet being met. And finally, the betting/insured alternative sector has presented competition and challenge that has shaken up the rather cosy and safe market.

The course includes a session on defining lottery. How does lottery differ from other gaming verticals?
Fundamentally lottery is about dreams. A mass market proposition that encourages many to have a small flutter for a life-changing sum, whilst contributing to society. Lottery has a unique place in the market as players do not consider themselves to be gambling, and many would not consider playing other gaming verticals.

As such, there is a far greater obligation on lottery operators to act responsibly and respect their monopoly position.

What do you expect to be the defining features of the lottery industry over the next 18 months?
I am not expecting, but I am hoping to see true game innovation in digital which will, again, redefine lottery for the next generation.

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