I participate in World Gaming Executive Summit event in July in Barcelona. I had opportunity to be one of the members in panel where we discussed about lottery innovations. One of the fellow panelists was Nigel Birrell, CEO of Lottoland. I was surprised how much we agreed on current situation and also about the further development in lottery business. My company Veikkaus, the national monopoly operator, and Lottoland, the market “hooligan”, look lottery/gambling business from very different perspectives but finally we are trying to reach about same goals. I’ll now tell what I personally think about companies like Lottoland and also what are main changes needed in lottery business.
I was asked to give my “confession” about Lottoland in ICE Vox seminar in February 2018. Although as a protest I’m not used to give any confessions, I made presentation about that and here are 7 points I made 1½ years ago. I think that they are still valid.
- Lottery business has no competition
- Lotteries have believed that competition is in casino and sports betting business but in lottery business.
- Due to previous point lottery innovations haven’t been significant at all.
- Lotteries have been and unfortunately still are in protection mode – we have believed in lobbying & EU Law.
- The business idea of Lottoland is
- Betting on lottery results and the Lottoland business model is something like “Uber” of the lottery business.
- What Lottoland has done would be possible for lotteries. Why lotteries haven’t done that by themselves?
- There are excellent business solutions from Lottoland.
- Scared & angry
- I felt scared & angry when I noticed what Lottoland was doing -> protection mode again
- I think that it was steal of our brands!
- There wouldn’t be Lottoland without lotteries because they business was based on our products.
- Wakeup call- thank you!
- We should develop our own business.
- The key issue is to understand motivations of our customers – huge jackpots is not the only reason to play lottery.
- New surprise(s)
- Lottoland moved to B-to-B business and that was new surprise.
- What will be next surprise – maybe “Super Lottoland”?
- Speed of development increases
- How much and quick gaming and gambling businesses will merge?
- Blockchain or something else – there will be new technologies all the time.
- We are going to fight!
- Lotteries or at least some of us are ready for fair competition!
Lottoland is just one company and I use it only as an example to describe what would happen if companies don’t develop their businesses and don’t put effort on innovation. Then there will be someone else who is doing that and will win the battle. It’s extremely important that you understand and serve your customers as well as possible. In old days it was possible that company decided what they were selling but nowadays customer is decision maker and he/she has lots of alternatives where to select – also in lottery business despite of monopolies.
I realized at the latest in that panel in Barcelona that there are still lots of lotteries who are not trying to innovate anything. I knew that it was the case some years ago, but I was a little bit shocked that it still is. Due to that fact there is lots of empty space in lottery/gambling business where newcomers, companies like Lottoland, have excellent business opportunities. If lotteries believe that they will win the battle in courtrooms, they are totally wrong!
I know that it is not easy to keep monopoly and at the same time innovate new business solutions, but we should try to do that anyhow. I’m happy and proud that my company Veikkaus is going to host EL’s (European Lotteries) Innovation seminar here in Helsinki in November. We try to increase the level of knowhow, understanding and spirit of innovations among lotteries. I hope that after few years the reputation of lotteries is not anymore old-fashioned, and we could still run profitable and responsible business!