CONSOLIDATION OF GAMBLING BUSINESS

I’m used to say that I’m working in lottery business and/or in sports betting business. After our big merger I have used gambling business which includes also casino business. I have noticed that quite many lottery experts use word “gaming” instead of “gambling” but to me gaming is mainly casual and social games – not real money games which we are offering. I know that the reputation of word “gaming” is much softer than “gambling” but that’s not the core issue.

In which business we are working? That’s still relevant question! But the reason for that is not those words gaming and gambling. It’s important question because we have to know what our core business is, and we should know who our competitors are. We are used to think that other gambling companies are those competitors and they still are, but nowadays there are many other companies too. I would say that we are part of the entertainment business! That has been obvious for physical casinos already long time, but I’m not sure about lotteries and sports & horse betting companies.

I have said this many time before but I say it again: the most important feature for success is to understand your customers and their needs! You could serve them much better if you know their real motivations for buying your games. That motivation is not always the same and could vary from time to time. I believe that the main motivations for gambling are dreaming, spending free time and following sports.

We have already noticed that some quite big companies which are used to operate in other businesses have entered to gambling business. The first change happened when gambling technology suppliers moved to operation side. Those companies were used to operate games on behalf of lottery operators for example in US market. Probably technology suppliers noticed that there were bigger profit opportunities available if they have gambling licenses by themselves. Anyhow they have managed to get gambling licenses from some countries, but at the same time they are still taking care of their core business and selling tech for gambling companies. So, those companies have moved to gambling business but haven’t left their original business. That has caused slightly difficult situation for gambling companies when their technology partner is their potential competitors.

As I already said, we are competing in the entertainment market and traditional entertainment companies have realized that too. I know that big media companies are considering how they should react on gambling business. Especially the opening of sports betting in US has put more speed on that kind of analyzes. I wonder if there is any media company which have TV-rights for sports which is not planning their strategy for sports betting? I’m not saying that those TV-companies should move to gambling operations, but they should understand how they could utilize their rights in sports betting business. The entrance of big media companies will affect on gambling business a lot because those companies have lots of customers and they understand their needs. It’s always easier from customer point of view if you could get all services from one place.

Third and the most important and interesting “newcomer” would be GAFA companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook & Apple). Those giant companies have based their business models on customer data and in principle they could run whatever business with that excellent capability. I don’t have any “inside information” how actively those GAFA companies are in gambling area, but I would be surprised if they haven’t made any survey around that business area. If they, or just one of them, would enter to gambling business, it would mean dramatical change. To be honest, I’m not sure how well current gambling companies would succeed against them. I would say that we should hope that they won’t come or at least won’t act as operators! Probably they are not willing to take the risk of losing their brand when the reputation of gambling business is not so high…

That consolidation would also mean something else than just new companies entering to our business. We have already noticed that some gambling companies have started other businesses than just gambling. We have example even from lotteries where some big companies have moved partly to technology direction. For example FDJ from France and Camelot from UK have invested quite a lot to technology development and are nowadays trying to sell their solution to other operators. Some other lotteries like SISAL (Italy) and SAZKA (Czech) have tried to utilize their gambling solutions in other business areas like selling different kind of tickets and give payment services. I know that many gambling companies are looking for solutions where they could link gambling and casual games and offer something totally new which wouldn’t be gambling as we have used to define it. I believe that we shall see consolidation even more in near future.

I think that consolidation of different businesses would happen and succeed if there are possibilities to utilize your current competences somewhere else than you are used to do. If you have lots of information and understanding about your customers, you could use that almost in all possible business areas and that’s the main reason why those GAFA companies have managed so well. It’s much more difficult to enter in totally new area where you don’t have any expertise, capability or assets. That might be possible for start-ups, but for big existing companies it would be stupid risk. You should understand where your strengths are and try to find out new ideas where you could utilize them!

THE CHINESE GAMBLING MARKET

It’s well known fact that Macau and Hong Kong are the leading areas when we are talking about physical casino business (Macau) or horse betting business (Hong Kong). But how much we know about the Chinese gambling market? I have now visited some times in Beijing and tried to understand more what is situated in there and what might happen in next few years.

It’s obvious that when the country has about 1,4 billion inhabitants, there is huge business possibilities in all business areas and that’ the case of course in gambling business. But the State of China has prohibited gambling actions and is also controlling that quite closely. Anyhow it has said that the illegal market in sports betting and casino business is huge in Asia but it’s that the case also in China? According to estimates the illegal interactive gambling business in China is just about 1,5 B€ (GGR) which is not so much compared to the size of the country.

There is a general level prohibition on gambling activities in China, but there are few exceptions to that. There are two state-owned lotteries which have licenses to operate lottery games and limited numbers of VLT machines (video lottery terminals). They are only allowed to run lottery business in retail channel, so digital online business is not allowed – at least yet. As I already said, the Chinese state is actively fighting against illegal gambling activities and especially against cross-border operations. There are quite heavy punishments in they legislation for illegal gambling and I’m sure that they will use those tools if they manage to catch illegal operators.

Ministry of Finance has approved two licenses for lottery operations – the other one is for China Sports Lottery (CSL) and the other one for China Welfare Lottery (CWL). In fact, there seems to be a little bit strange duopoly situation in that market. As far as I know, those two licenses are almost the same. If the other lottery would get permission to introduce something new, the other one would probably get the same kind of permission. The only difference is now in sports games area where Sports Lottery has license to have some lottery style sports games.

It’s not big surprise that CSL and CWL are the two biggest lotteries in the world. Now CSL is slightly bigger than CWL but they are about the same size. The sale of both lotteries seems to be at the level of 30 billion euros a year – the total sale is about 60 B €/year. The development of sales in last ten years has been huge but now both lotteries have faced big challenges. Their businesses have suffered a lot this year and decrease has been so big that the Chinese state should consider some changes to help that business.

What kind of big changes there might be? I’m 100 % sure that China will continue with monopoly (duopoly) based system, so there won’t be any other licenses although the local governments have had and still have quite big role to decide practical level issues. Based on my knowledge the role of local governments won’t become bigger in gambling area but rather will decrease. I believe that the Chinese state will try to control even more the gambling business than they have done until now. It might mean two changes – either huge merger of CSL and CWL or tighter integration of those two companies and their local organizations. I don’t believe that this huge merger will happen very soon. That’s why I think that both CSL and CWL will have new organizational structure where central company will have bigger and more important role than they have at the moment.

The other big change which I expect to see soon is online lottery business. Online purchase of some lottery products was allowed for a while in 2015 but lotteries had to close that operation quite soon. The Chinese state released online lottery directive already in 2016 when they suggested that online lottery sales would be allowed, but nothing has happened in practical level after that. I guess that now when both lotteries have faced problems in their businesses, the government will give them license to have limited offering in online channel. I believe that the legislation will change next year and CSL and CWL could start online business in 2021. Chinese people are using mobile payment more than I have seen anywhere else and that’s why I believe that mobile lottery might be big success in China.

The third potential big change might be sports betting. CSL is running some football and basketball sports games but there is no real official sports betting in China. There would be huge business potential available in sports betting, but the Chinese politicians might consider sports betting as “too heavy gambling” and that’s why I don’t believe that fixed odds sports betting would be allowed very soon. CSL and CWL might have chance to get more wider license for lottery style sports games (pool-based games) in next few years.

As a short summary I would say that there will be some big changes in the Chinese gambling market, but it won’t open big business opportunities for foreign companies at least in short term. The State of China will keep tight control on that and will help their own companies to develop their businesses. Some good gambling technology suppliers might have business possibilities if they managed to establish joint venture companies together with Chinese operators.

ABOUT US SPORTS BETTING MARKET AGAIN

I wrote blog about US Sports Betting 7 months ago. I’m probably too short-tempered when I’m going to write about the same issue so short again, but I’ll do it. If you remember the previous US blog well, I would say that not so much has changed yet, but I have got some new information and ideas after that.

I start with the regulatory situation of US Sports Betting market. Now, or actually few weeks ago, there are 13 states which have already started Sports Betting. That’s some more than it was in spring 2019. There are also 6 states which have passed the legal process and where Sports Betting would be legal but where no one has started it yet. If I have understood it correctly, there are also something like 5 states where the legalization process is actively going on and where Sports Betting will probably be legal at the latest next year. So, it seems that Sports Betting will be legal in half of states quite soon. There are still some big states like California missing from that list.

How big is the unregulated US Sports Betting market now? I’m afraid that no one really knows, but I trust on H2GC research company. H2GC estimates that the handle of unregulated Sports Betting market is 196 billion $ and gross gaming revenue (GGR) of that is about 10 B$. So, we are talking about huge market and market potential for newly regulated companies. I don’t know how big share of that the regulated companies are supposed to get from that unregulated market, but I believe that it will be big share anyhow.

H2GC has also given estimates for the growth of regulated US Sports Betting. They are expecting it to reach the size of 9 B$ in next 10 years. That would mean almost 1 billion dollars growth every year because it’s now a little bit less than 1 B$. It seems that there will be 24 states which have legalized Sports Betting in 2020 and there will be more states which will do that later. According to estimates there will be 38 states where Sports Betting will be legal until 2024.

It’s obvious that US market is not working in the same way than European or Asian Sports Betting market. We have noticed that at least now when some big Europe based companies have entered to US market. US Sports Betting is based really much on US Sports and different bet types than we used to have here in Europe. The three main sports in US Sports Betting markets are basketball (about 29 %), baseball (26 %) and American football (18 %). The most popular bet types are “Las Vegas style” bets. As I already wrote in my previous US Sports Betting blog, I think that it will be hard and almost impossible to beat Las Vegas bookmakers in those sports and bet types. The new companies should introduce something else.

The share of digital channel(s) has been quite small, but I’m sure that it will increase a lot in the future. H2GC has estimated that after ten years from now the size (GGR) of online Sports Betting will be about 6 B$ and landbased about 3 B$. As you know it’s easier to utilize skills in data and customer areas in digital channels than in landbased business. At least until now the Las Vegas based Sports Betting operators have concentrated on business which they have used to run. That might be “weakness” where the new legal operators should try to hit?

I don’t have much new information about the Sports Betting plans of big media and technology companies. They actions might change the whole Sports Betting market, not only in US but also globally. It’s not sure at all that they are going to act as Sports Betting operators, but I believe that at least those media (TV) companies who have Sports TV-rights will utilize those rights somehow in Sports Betting business too. There is already one interesting example. Score is offering maybe the most popular live results service of sports events to tens millions of customers. They introduced own Sports Betting offering in New Jersey some months ago and business results of that seem to be good ones. I’m keen on seeing what will happen if even bigger media companies will do the same…

It’s not sure what the State Lotteries will do. There are just four lotteries (Delaware, Oregon, Rhode Island and West Virginia) which have started their own Sports Betting operations. Last week I heard from Patricia McQueen from NASPL that there are few more states where lotteries have already license to start Sports Betting, but which haven’t yet done that. As far as I understood right, Montana will be the fifth one quite soon and probably New Hampshire and District of Columbia will follow later. Tennessee will also start Sports Betting quite soon, but there lottery will act as a regulator which sounds to me really strange…

The business model of existing Sports Betting lotteries seems to be mainly based on casino model where they are offering Sports betting in casinos and/or at the racinos (race track casinos). Just Oregon lottery has introduced mobile based model and probably New Hampshire lottery will do the same. I’m not sure how well that casino-based business model could serve the potential customers? I’m afraid that lotteries won’t succeed in Sports Betting competition if they won’t develop more modern business models. They should concentrate on utilizing their wide customer base. It’s of course easy to say but I would be keen on doing that also in practice if there would be need for help…

WHY WE NEED INNOVATIONS?

That question was asked from me two days ago. I’m not 100% sure what I answered to that, but I’ll tell you what I would answer now.

European Lotteries (EL) organized Innovation seminar here in Helsinki this week. My company Veikkaus acted as a hosting company and I believe that our team managed very well. The Innovation working group of EL did also excellent work when they planned the seminar program. We managed to get well-known keynote speakers like Dietmar Dahmen and Dave Caygill to our seminar. I’m not sure if I learnt anything specific from their presentations/shows, but at least I’m even more sure that we really need innovations! I had great opportunity to open that event and suddenly I was also asked to say the closing words and there my colleague Suvi asked the question in the heading of this blog.

The world is changing all the time. Consumers, and our customers, have more opportunities available. The competition has become tougher than it has ever before been and I’m sure that it won’t be easier anymore. I think that lottery companies have trusted that monopoly situation will secure them from the competition – I’m afraid that there still are many lotteries which are thinking that way… I’m sure that consumers don’t think that there is separate business area called lottery business or not even gambling business. Consumers just decide how they are going to use their money and lotteries and other gambling companies are in the middle of that “battle”.

If company would like to succeed in the competition, it should offer something special and different which customers would like to buy or pay for. If you are offering just an average product you could compete only with price which should be lower than the other companies have. It’s obvious that lotteries don’t have the lowest prices or the highest payout percent. If you can’t compete with the price, you should have something different compared to other companies. That’s why we need innovations!

I think that it’s already clear from my previous blogs that in my mind the customer is the King (or Queen)! We must always think about what the best solution for our customers is. It won’t help us, if we manage to develop excellent technical solution but consumers are not interested in that at all. Consumers are used to use service from great companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon and we should be at the same level than those giants are. How we can do that when we don’t have as much resources than they have? Cooperation might be the way to do that. Companies should utilize start-ups and their innovation capabilities. We should also find out good business partners, because we can’t do everything by ourselves. Companies should concentrate on areas where they are good and have strengths and let the partners take care of other issues.

The difficulty in innovation is that you don’t know what you are going to get there, or will you get anything. The scope of innovation work should be 2 – 5 years. If you are looking for something quicker innovation is probably not the solution. By improvement and development you could get something new quicker, but then the result won’t be so radical. Companies should allocate resources to all those three areas (improvement, development & innovation), because we can’t wait years to get something totally new.

Dietmar Dahmen spoke lots about customers and trust. That sounded very familiar to me. It’s extremely important that your customers would trust on you! It would be great to innovate products, services and above all business model which would responsible but at the same time profitable. I’m not sure how to make it, but I’m so keen on trying to do it. The result should customer oriented, personalized, easy, fun, modern and profitable solution for gambling business. Let’s innovate and try to make it happen!

RESPONSIBLE GAMING HAS IMPACT ON THE REPUTATION OF GAMBLING INDUSTRY

I have worked almost 30 years in gambling business and most of that time in lottery world where I was told to use word “gaming” instead of “gambling” when I was talking about our business. I’m not native English-speaking person so I don’t recognize all details in that language, but I believe that it wasn’t only about detail issue but rather about reputation of business. Lottery people have always thought that lottery is much softer and not so dangerous business than casino business is. Sports and Horse Betting are somewhere between those two areas. To me they all are gambling business and it doesn’t matter how soft or hard versions they are. I use gaming when I’m talking about casual and social games like for example Candy Crush Saga.

It is true that lottery games have caused much less, or almost at all, gambling problems than other gambling verticals. That’s one of the main reasons why lottery has had much better brand in the society than other games groups have had. The other reason has been “benefits for the society and good causes” ideology which has been the model all over the lottery world. It’s still very common that states have monopoly for lottery games and profit from those games is going to good causes. In other games groups that hasn’t been the case or if it has it’s not anymore. The gambling world has changed and is going to change.

Responsible gaming has always been important part of gambling business, but its role has increased rapidly during last few years. Especially in Europe responsible gaming has big role in political level discussion and I’m sure that other continents will follow soon or later. It’s important to understand what responsible gaming is about. To be honest I’m not expert on that area, but I have my own view about responsible gaming and I’ll try to explain how it should work.

Problem gambling and responsible gaming are not exactly the same issue but of course those two things are linked together. There are about 3 % of adults who have had gambling problems here in Finland. About 40 % of that group are serious problem gamblers which means that there are 50 – 60 000 people who really suffer. At least in Finland the most of gambling problems are caused by casino games and especially by slot machines. That’s why the former lottery company and horse betting company haven’t thought so much about gambling problems. Of course Horse and Sports Betting are reasons for some of those gambling problems but not at all at the same level than casino games. All game verticals have become quicker and harder and they are not anymore so different than they used to be before. Responsible gaming should be in the agenda of all gambling companies.

Gambling professionals seem to be worried what will happen to the reputation of our industry. There is more and more public discussion about that and unfortunately that discussion sounded to be rather negative one. It looks like gambling will follow the way which has happened in tobacco industry already many years ago. Smoking was very common when I was young adult, but nowadays it’s not acceptable at all. I think that gambling and smoking are not the same. Smoking is unhealthy for everybody, but gambling is not so dangerous for 80 – 95 % of people. Gambling is more like alcohol than tobacco when I think about problems caused by those things. It’s sure that gambling companies should do more in responsible gaming area, but there is no reason to ban whole gambling, because it causes problems for some of customers. We should concentrate on finding effective solutions to prevent those problems!

The problems won’t be solved if just some companies would change their rules, business models or whatever is needed to change. I think that whole industry should take responsible gaming really seriously, because it will affect on the reputation of industry. If there are companies which don’t care about the welfare of their customer, we can’t solve these problems, because problem gamblers would have companies where to move from the responsible companies. How we could solve that?

States, regulators and social welfare bodies, should decide and describe guidelines and the most important features for gambling companies which should operate according to those rules. I would describe that like “box” where companies should stay inside, but there they could run their business quite freely. If there would be any company which is not following those rules, that company should be punished very heavily and finally prevent whole operations of that kind of company. That model would work if whole industry would agree on that and there would be good cooperation between the industry and regulators.

What would be the best way to prevent gambling problems? I believe in personalization where gambling companies could utilize also other data sources than their own customer data. Unfortunately, it’s not legal to combine for example company’s customer data and data of the customers who have got help for gambling problems. In principle GDPR is good thing, but in gambling problem area it prevents to solve even bigger problems than customer’s privacy. One solution could be state level data center which could have “black box” where regulator could combine information about gambling problems, income/tax level and gambling data. The result of that kind of information would be personal level gambling limits and/or bans for gambling which should be mandatory for all license companies.

I believe more in personal limits than general level limits. I’m not sure if customers could really make right decisions by themselves when it’s about gambling limits. Regulators and social authorities & experts together with gambling companies should help customers to set them the best possible limits. Those limits could be separate in different gambling verticals (lottery, casino etc.). Gambling companies have and will have tools like AI and machine learning which could help them to make better work in responsible gaming area. I hope that gambling industry could find out the way to prevent gambling problems in more effective way than it’s the case now and at the same time we could continue to run our business without causing any useless disruption for those customers who could play our games without any problems!

WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THE US SPORTS BETTING MARKET?

It’s too long time when I wrote my blog last time. I spent last week in New York/New Jersey in the excellent Betting on Sports America event. I learnt there quite a lot about US Sports Betting opportunities and among other things had chance to give my advices to US lotteries.

I got also some feedback about my blog. I heard that quite many is reading my stories via mobile phone and it has been difficult to read it when I’m writing too long paragraphs. I now try to change my style a little bit and hopefully it will help.

It’s not 100 % sure what will finally happen there in USA. The PASPA decision seemed to chance everything and in fact made Sports Betting legal or at least made it “non-illegal”. But after that there was another court decision which changed almost everything… At this moment there are less than 10 States where Sports Betting is already allowed. There are also 10 – 15 States which are planning to make it possible quite soon. It’s possible that about half of US States will have legal Sports Betting in next few years.

About 90 % or even more of participants of the European Sports Betting seminars are already somehow involved in that business. That’s why I was surprised there in New Jersey when I noticed that at least half of audience didn’t have so much knowledge about our business. That was strange but at the same time fascinating. The whole business might change due/thanks to those newcomers and I’m keen on seeing what will really happen!

I try to make short analyzes about different interest groups who are involved in Sports Betting in USA. The first group is of course customers. There has been huge unregulated/illegal Sports Betting market in USA. Customers are already used to make a bet and that would help a lot but at the same time it means that customers are more critical and enlightened. If US companies won’t succeed very well it would be possible that the unregulated market will stay quite big.

There are lack of information and knowledge about gambling and Sports Betting among politicians and regulators. They should make big decisions but how they could take care of that if they don’t understand enough about consequences? The whole gambling industry should deliver as much valid information as possible, but we should understand that politicians won’t so much for our issues.

All top sports leagues are interested in Sports Betting. Their attitudes vary quite a lot but all of them are now thinking about their role in that new business in USA. The biggest ones NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have already extremely big business by themselves, but they would like to control and get some more revenue also from gambling side. I don’t believe that any leagues would start their own Sports Betting business.

Las Vegas has been the only place in USA where Sports Betting has had legal role already many years. There are lots of gambling companies operating Sports Betting. Those companies might have good position if they could utilize scalability but I’m not sure if they can do that. The most popular sports in USA are different ones compared to Europe. Vegas bookmakers have razor-sharp analyzes about American football, baseball and basketball and it will be very difficult to beat them in those areas.

Some big European Sports Betting companies like William Hill have already established their operations to USA. Those companies are used to offer same products all over the world and scalability is one key word for their success. They have of course chance to manage in US market too, but it would be more difficult than they have expected it to be because they have to make it in slightly different way in all States. I have heard that they haven’t got so good revenues for example in New Jersey as they have expected.

How about US lotteries? They are used to outsourced they business operations to technology suppliers and probably they will do the same if they will decide to move to Sports Betting business. If they would like to manage in the heavy competition, they should control their customer database and operate at least in some areas in different way than the other operators are doing. I gave them two potential business ideas: they could offer “the most responsible” Sports Betting in US or/and they could offer “more lottery style” pool-based sports games too.

Big technology companies are used to operate some gambling products on the behalf of license holders and of course they would like to do the same also in Sports Betting. I won’t be surprised if some of those tech companies would like to own operating license by themselves too.

The big new player in gambling business might be media companies. The message from BOSA seminar was clear – all big US media companies are considering the business possibilities in Sports Betting market. The main scope is to make Sports Betting more entertaining than it has used to be. Media companies’ core customer group is sports fans not heavy punters. I have had that same idea already 15 years… Those big companies like ESPN or NBC have lots of money and if they decide to be big player in Sports Betting business I wouldn’t be surprised if we talk about 9 or even 10 digits investments! I guess that they won’t try to get operating licenses for themselves but some important roles they will have for sure.

There are also lots of investors who are looking for new business opportunities from gambling business. I’m not expert on that area but I have understood that there would be some billions of dollars available investments. Normally private investors are just looking for profits and that would make Sports Betting business even heavier than it’s used to be…

There are many critical things still open in US Sports Betting business. What would happen if interstate gambling would be allowed? It’s obvious that in that case different companies would manage. What kind of limitation there will be – for example now mobile gaming in allowed just in five US States? What will happen if Silicon Valley will concentrate on the gambling technology development? That might chance the whole industry and who will manage then in our business. I’m extremely keen on seeing what will happen and hopefully I could play some role there!

LOTTERIES IN SPORTS BETTING BUSINESS

I participated in Betting on Football (BOF) event in London earlier this week. I was there as an expert in two different panel discussions. The first one was about Sports Betting market stagnation and the other one was about lotteries role in Sports Betting business. I also chaired the European Lotteries Sports Betting working group meeting before that BOF event. So I have got lots of stimulation from Sports Betting business lately and I try to think about what that information might mean for lotteries.

The first question is what companies are lotteries? I’m not trying to write any official definition because I’m not able to do it anymore. Lottery used to be a company which offered Lotto games normally based on monopoly situation. The most of lotteries are used to have also some other games too. Nowadays it is more common that lotteries still have monopoly in Lotto games are but not so often in other gambling areas anymore. Some former lotteries have wide product portfolios and they are offering all kind of games. For example, my company Veikkaus has all possible gambling products like lottery, Sports Betting, Horse Betting, bingo, casino games, slot machines etc… Is Veikkaus lottery anymore? As in our panel discussion in London also here in this blog I mean by lotteries still the companies which are offering monopoly-based Lotto games and it doesn’t matter if they are offering other games either in monopoly or in license markets.

One of the questions in BOF panel was could lotteries offer Sports Betting? It was strange question to me because we have had sports games since 1940’s and introduced fixed odds Sports Betting already 25 years ago. I see sports games as natural part of our product portfolio. There are more than 70 lotteries as members in European Lottery Association and about 2/3 of them have sports games in their product portfolio. So, lottery could and should operate in Sports Betting business, but can they do that in same way than Sports Betting companies like William Hill, Ladbrokes, Unibet & co are doing? They should do that but in some cases legislation would set restrictions. If lottery has monopoly also in Sports Betting it can’t use exactly the same tools than “normal business companies”. The reason why states have gambling monopolies is to restrict and control that business. Normal it means limitation to the business which in open market cases don’t exist.

The French gambling business consultant Christian Kalb has made survey among European lotteries to analyze how those companies are offering their Sports Betting products. He found out that there seem to be three or actually four different kind of strategies in that area. There is small group of lotteries who have positioned themselves to real competition in that area and are running Sports Betting like business as usual. The second group is offering quite many sports games but with a little bit worse rules (payout etc.) than private companies. Surprisingly big third group has Sports Betting or Football Pools but are offering it mainly like lottery games. Fourth group is that 1/3 of companies who haven’t been willing or allowed to have Sports Betting at all. Companies from those different groups are totally different ones from customer point of view and I try to analyze the first and second group to find out the question what kind of possibilities lotteries might have in Sports Betting.

Some lotteries are among the biggest Sports Betting companies in the world. Someone might be surprised that Hong Kong Jockey Club is the member of World Lottery Association and it could be called as a lottery? There are two real big European lotteries in Sports Betting business too. Those companies are OPAP from Greece and FDJ from France. FDJ is operating in heavy competition in French digital market and manages very well. The other kind of example of competitive lottery in Sports Betting is from Denmark where the state changed the legal system from the beginning of 2012. Lottery Danske Spil was split to two separate companies Danske Lotteri Spil and Danske License Spil where both are still part of Danske Spil company. Danske License Spil is in heavy competition and have exact the same tools and rules than other Sports Betting companies have. The lottery monopoly Svenska Spel from Sweden has now faced the same kind of change than Danske Spil had 7 years earlier. I’m keen on seeing the first results from there and analyzing them after few weeks. I was surprised that Christian Kalb put also Veikkaus to that first group. I agree that we are trying to operate Sports Betting as business as usual but have many limitations compared to those private companies. Anyhow for those business-oriented lotteries Sports Betting is normal business and natural part of everything else and they seem to manage very well also in competition if they would have possibility and will to have same condition than the other ones.

Example of companies from the second group are German lotteries. They have had fixed odds Sports Betting already many years, but they don’t have competitive rules there at all. They had monopoly in Sports Betting in principle but in practice they have faced competition from the beginning. Those German lotteries have had right to cooperate with each other and they have managed to utilize their huge lottery customer potential a little bit also in Sports Betting, but they have lost the competition quite badly anyhow. Now there is new legal environment in Germany, but lotteries haven’t changed their Sports Betting offering. I’m now sure if the reason has been legal restriction or is the decision made by lotteries themselves? I think that lotteries should either offer real product or stay away that business totally. I understand some limitations like lower risk limits and a little bit lower payout percent but those shouldn’t be too far away from the market level. If lotteries are not willing to compete in fixed odds Sports Betting they could offer more “lottery style” sports games like Football Pools and pool-based sports betting products – for example Moniveto (correct scores in 3-4 football matches) here in Finland. It’s always better from customer point of view to get all products from one shop and that’s why all lotteries should have sports games in their portfolio.