The lottery is the oldest, simplest mass market gamble in history. It dates back to the 1500s and its humble origins are still evident today in its more sparkly modem day equivalent. But is this sector staid and too traditional? Does it need a revamp to keep up with technological advances? What of player behaviour and new areas of opportunity? To discover more about this broad topic, Gambling Insider sat down with industry experts to work out what's next out of the hat.

Traditionally lottery has been an over­counter product with weekly draws and scratchcards. Does it need a revamp?

FM: Demographics indicate that younger generations have grown up using and embracing technology in their everyday lives. They use mobile phones and tablets practically as the extension of their fingertips, they are part of various social communities that keep them always logged-in and they have learned that everything is just a click away. This generation can be approached only by those who use the same digital arsenal. Simultaneously it is a fact that retail channels remain strong with loyal clientele. To this end one could claim that although society is changing to mobile, retail will stay with us for quite some years. It is to this end that 'tradition' will coexist with 'revamp', creating a new and ever-evolving balance that has to be honoured.

What are the big areas of opportunity for lottery?

FM: The areas of opportunity lay in enhanced content providing a personalized universal gaming experience across all channels. Everything points towards mobile. This trend is boosted even more due to the tremendous impact and penetration of mobile devices, especially in the younger generations. Most of us own two or more mobile devices that serve as the extension of our fingertips into the digital world. The more capabilities of mobile devices evolve, the more our dependency on them increases. So, the answer is crystal clear. Yes, it is very important to develop and modernize mobile lottery, otherwise we are doomed to be left behind and miss great opportunities in this era of evolution. Having said that though, one should not forget that retail is present and still brings in a huge amount of turnover. As stated already, the challenge remains in honouring both digital and retail channels with compellingly attractive, entertaining, socializing content that will be available through almost channels.

What is the typical behaviour for lotteries?

FM: There is no such thing as a typical behaviour in lottery players. There is not just one correct answer as players differ in terms of age, gender, nationality, gaming habits and generally in their demographics and their psychological profiles. That is why it is of utmost importance for us to know our customer preferences, habits, mode of playing etc, now more than at any other time. Deepening our knowledge regarding the ananlysis of our players, behaviour per target group is a constantly challenging process and operators must be in the position to have a clear mind so as to acknowledge all changes and adapt accordingly. Currently a substantial portfolio of tools and methods exist to achieve this analysis so as to allow lotteries to plan and progress. The lotteries that do not acknowledge such need will have difficulty in successfully exploiting current opportunities.

Why are some operators who love sports betting, casino and poker cautious to use lottery products to engage with new customers?

FM: The issue is not whether or not such operators love lottery products but, given the usual monopoly status of lotteries and a number of their games, whether they are allowed to operate them. In other words, the issue is not caution but a licence to operate.

Do you think lotteries can dominate an online sportsbook market in the same way that large private operators do?

FM: Rest assured lotteries have the potential to compete equally in the online market. For this to happen,, companies should first of all offer innovative content that is relevant to the players’ interests while developing the appropriate mechanisms to protect the players, offer access to lottery games through various channels that are familiar to each player and always be aligned with the existing regulations.

Should lotteries maintain focus on their core specialist areas and outsource sportsbook and other specialist product verticals?

FM: Outsourcing applies to all industries. Lotteries should concentrate in the direction of setting relations with their customers through all channels, providing charities to communities in need, protecting their players and assisting the regulators to put certain limits in all markets, and allow the other features of their activities- for example technology, research, logistics etc- to be handled by relevant experts, since this will maximize results and return to society.

Is the European lottery market under-developed compared to the US?

FM: Both the US and the European market offer a variety of examples of development and under-development. For instance, some lottery games are a huge success in the US market whereas at the same time the European players do not consider them as attractive. To this end, one should return to the initial statement that each region has its particularities and it is a task of every lottery to address them in the best possible way by offering the best content possible in the specific environment. Blindly imitating other jurisdictions’ success stories is not the best way to move forward.

Gambling Insider January/February 2015