As some countries start to ease back on nationwide lockdowns and restrictions, many are being hit with an increase in cases, with some areas renewing stay at home orders. In this time of instability, Spinola Gaming CEO Ade Repcenko takes a look at the realities that Covid-19 made businesses face over the past few months, what the ‘new normal’ looks like for the lottery sector, and lessons learned that can help businesses prepare for what might be a second wave in the coming months.
iGaming Times: What was the state of the lottery sector before the lockdown? How has it changed over the last few months?
Ade Repcenko, CEO of Spinola Gaming: The lottery sector traditionally operates through an extensive retail network, but had been taking a slow creep towards digital solutions over the past few years. Some lottery companies were exploring options to become more digitally focused in order to reach new global audiences and give their players the opportunity to purchase tickets on demand, wherever they may be. But this digital transformation was not being adopted as rapidly as other sectors, with some huge names in lottery shooting down any notion that lotteries should move online, and others such as some states in the US not able to go online due to legal frameworks.
Covid-19 removed all player access to lottery’s established retail networks and forced companies to find digital solutions fast in order to find new ways of reaching their players, or risk not reaching them at all. Many were those who managed to make the switch, with others being forced to temporarily close and cease operations until restrictions were lifted.
IGT: How did operators adapt to the lockdown? Which ones were successful?
AR: Lotteries which had digital sales available saw sustained revenue to see them through the pandemic, and also noted a marked increase in online sales during this period. American state lotteries whose offering included online lotteries saw online sales surge more than 10 percent. In New Hampshire, the state lottery saw a 38 percent surge in first-time digital lottery players in February and March.
This trend was also seen in Europe. In a very interesting online webinar titled “Lotteries in COVID-19 Lockdown”, the European Lotteries (EL) Secretary General Arjan van‘t Veer reported that online lottery games were performing better than initially expected. Robert Chvatal, CEO of the Sazka Group also revealed that “many lotteries have seen a significant increase in online sales share” due to the fact that retail options were no longer viable.
IGT: What will the ‘new normal’ look like when countries reopen their retail businesses?
AR: Some countries are slowly reopening and trying to go back to normal, but normal seems a very vague term, at least for the foreseeable future. The harsh social distancing imposed onto the public during the peak of Covid-19, although slowly lifting in some areas, still resonates with people. How we interact has changed, how we buy things has changed. Establishments are slowly re-opening, but patrons are choosing to visit physical retail less and less, especially as re-opening is resulting in a resurgence of cases. People got accustomed to getting all their needs met online from the comfort of their homes: groceries, restaurant deliveries, entertainment, and even gambling and playing the lottery – and this comfort is one that many will continue to seek long-term. The future, and what it holds in terms of a second wave and the possibility of renewed lockdowns, remains uncertain. Operators need to use this time to become more prepared and find ways to react to these market changes and player needs with long-term solutions.
IGT: How can the sector move forward following the impact of lockdown both on the market and on players? What solutions can help with this transition?
AR: As the world becomes more digitally inclined, with Covid-19 forcing all demographics to become more digitally dependent, a unique opportunity has arisen where traditionally land-based players can easily be converted into digital ones without spending considerable time and resources educating them about the benefits of digital. The entire world has been forced into adopting a digital approach, and the lottery sector must therefore embrace technology in order to continue to reach their players and acquire new ones. Going digital would also give retail operators access to a new player base which already entertained themselves in an online gaming space, and who could easily be converted into lottery players.
In order to succeed long-term, lotteries must strive to provide a seamless, omni-channel player experience that merges digital and retail initiatives. Solutions such as those offered by Spinola Gaming are specialised in helping operators make the move to digital, while still maintaining their traditional retail operations through one seamless interface.
Our software allows operators to monitor all lottery ticket sales and track all online and offline purchases in real-time, complete with a myriad of marketing functions and analytics available at the touch of a button. The system is available across all markets, currencies and languages and is fully customisable.
Any land-based retail, national or state lotteries interested in learning more about Spinola Gaming’s lottery software solutions can book a demo by getting in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org