The year of the lottery

Angelo Dalli, CEO of Bit8, says 2017 is the year online lottery will come out of the shadows and into the light

The online gambling industry enters 2017 off the back of a year of huge growth. But for the sector to continue its upward trajectory, operators and suppliers need to up their game, fine-tune the player experience, and take things to the next level. Current market demands mean it is no longer good enough to be a one trick pony; to survive and thrive operators must be all things to all people. And while most are well down the road to becoming truly multi-vertical, they are dropping the ball when it comes to one product – lottery.

For years, lottery has been seen as rusty and clunky. A vertical that can’t keep pace with the slick and smooth, fast-paced online slots games that have driven revenues and player sign-ups of late. And to some extent that is true. Most lotteries are run by governments or states, and have lacked the investment required to shake things up and bring the game into the modern era. They are void of innovation and excitement, and do little to tap into the psyche of younger players, particularly millennials.

In this regard, lottery has a lot to learn from casino and sports betting. There is a great deal of overlap between casino and lottery, both in the types of player they engage and how they go about it. Here at Bit8 we believe the key to operators standing out from the crowd and growing their business is to better understand lottery, and how it sits alongside their other gaming verticals. It is something we have been doing for a number of years now; helping traditional lotteries bring their platforms, products and brands into the digital era in both the land-based retail and online space.

Shift up a gear

While many have just focussed on draw-based games, others have shifted things up a gear by launching other formats such as instant win and even their own slots and social casino games. They understand the need to bring their proposition into the modern age, and in particular online and on mobile, if they are to engage new players and build a sustainable business in the long term. Those that have embraced online and adopted a digital-first approach are making strides, pulling way ahead of their rivals.

Here at Bit8 we want to be able to offer commercial operators the same opportunity to help them capitalise on the potential of lottery, and have developed an innovative new product that we will unveil on our stand at ICE Totally Gaming. While exact details of what it is and how it works will remain under lock and key until we pull back the curtain, I can say that USPs include large jackpots with regular draws happening 365 days a year, no player skill requirement and a mobile-friendly UX designed for millennials but with universal appeal.

We have shifted focus to the lottery vertical as we believe it will be the key to driving industry growth this year. Lottery sits perfectly alongside other game verticals, acting as the glue that holds them together and cross-selling players to games they had not previously engaged with. But unlike other verticals, lottery hasn’t had a truly innovative platform, product or feature come to market in recent years. But we hope to change all of that with our latest product, and bring lottery out of the shadows and into the light.

Foster loyalty

The industry’s decision to neglect online lottery is surprising. As player acquisition costs spiral and promiscuity continues to rise, operators are constantly looking for cost-effective ways of reducing churn. Lottery is the perfect product to do this; players remain loyal to their chosen brand, buying tickets week after week, month after month, for years on end. And with a lottery platform that offers even more regular draws, there is even more reason for them to keep coming back for more.

Combine this with a mobile first mind-set and approach to platform and UX, and lottery has the potential to become a significant vertical in its own right. If operators embrace lottery like they have other verticals, it will enable them to stake their claim to being truly multi-vertical and help them overcome some of the challenges they face when it comes to offering their players a complete package. And this while driving even greater growth than they have enjoyed over the past 12 months.

Despite our focus on lottery, we continue to push ahead with other areas of our business and have been very active in the Eastern European region lately. We have recently received our supplier licence from the Romania regulator, and have seen a number of Czech operators go live on our powerful casino platform. We are also working on a whole host of market-specific features, which we look forward to rolling-out later in the year, that will help our partners in Eastern Europe stay ahead of the curve, and their rivals.

The best is yet to come

The next 12 months will see the global online gambling sector reach new heights. We believe lottery will play a huge part in this, but it will be just as important for operators and suppliers to keep iterating and developing their casino and sportsbook products. In this industry if you rest, you rust, so it’s vital to keep creating and innovating. When we pull back the curtain on our lottery product at ICE we will do just that, and provide the vertical with the impetus it needs to enter the mainstream for the first time.

It’s going to be a fast and furious few months, so sit down, strap yourself in and hold on tight – it’s going to be one hell of a fun ride.

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