Player Experience Soars to New Levels

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Steve Mason
by Steve Mason
EVP Group Account Director, Lottery

The Lottery industry as we know it exists because of the technology and innovation that enabled the advances of the last five and a half decades. Those advances in printing, programming and retailer systems allowed for the sale of a growing number of games through vast, affordable distribution systems. Today, the industry continues to develop new ways to make lottery play easier and more enjoyable for its customers. But for all the complex technology and engineering required to make this happen, the primary objective of the effort is simplification—because lotteries that simplify the buying and playing of lottery games create new levels of sophistication to connect with customers. And after all, as DaVinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
So how can Lotteries make it easier for people to buy lottery tickets and games? The answer lies in moving closer to the customer. And it starts by removing the necessity for a lottery-dedicated second system in retailer environments. Think of the sophisticated simplicity of being able to buy a lottery ticket or instant/scratch game in the regular check-out aisle of the grocery store or department store. No more needing to go to the Service Desk to make that purchase. Much more opportunity for impulse buying and in-lane merchandising. And much greater convenience for customers and retailers alike.
NASPL (National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries) is pursuing two initiatives to achieve greater simplicity in multi-lane retailer sales. One is to establish an XML Technical Standard to provide greater consistency in sales technology, including consolidated accounting reports. The other is Standard API, which could ultimately eliminate the need for separate terminal systems. “It’s really about getting into the retailer’s EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) system and then from there into the digital space,” said Terry Presta, Executive Director of the Kansas Lottery in a 2018 Insights magazine article.  
Even as NASPL leads these two initiatives, other suppliers and lotteries around the world are bringing forward new ways to make lottery buying and playing simple and enjoyable:

  • Abacus and Toshiba have partnered to develop a new “Fusion Platform” to help lotteries open up thousands of new lottery ticket sales points. The system enables existing point of sales devices to accommodate lottery products, much as envisioned in the NASPL initiatives as described above.


  • Camelot Global has introduced ‘Lottery Now’, a digital voice assistant that lets players in Ireland check their numbers for Lotto, EuroMillions and Daily Million via Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Camelot Global Chief Executive Wayne Pickup said, “Customers today expect convenience and a great experience – and lottery players are no different. Innovations like ‘Lottery Now’ help lotteries meet their players where they are – they’re online, and they’re talking to their digital assistants.”


  • Self-serve machines expand lottery reach and player convenience by offering opportunities to purchase games in locations that might not normally offer lottery products. Also, self-serve machines allow a player to browse without feeling the pressure that comes with standing in line at a retail counter. In mid-2018, Scientific Games introduced a PlayCentral 54 machine that represents several firsts, including the first lottery self-service technology offering a full portfolio of lottery games, including instant/scratch games, draw games and other lottery products. The machine is also the first with PCI (Payment Card Industry) Certified card and mobile payment options. It is also the first low height self-service machine to be installed in market at a lottery retailer.


  • Cashless payment for lottery tickets adapts to the dropoff in cash-carrying consumers. The Ohio Lottery added cashless payment to more than 7,200 of its self-serve machines across the state. Players now have the option to pay with debit and credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay. Beyond self-serve machines, cashless payment for lottery tickets is expanding in the US in general. Today, lottery purchase is more commonly being separated from gambling transactions, which card processors decline as unlawful purchases. This is a key trend because, as a March 2018 Capital One poll revealed, 34 percent of people 18-35 rarely or never carry cash. 25 percent of those over age 55 reported the same behavior.


  • In August 2018, the first Mobile-Enabled Lottery Card was introduced in Ohio. Essentially a lottery gift card, shoppers in that state can pick one up at Kroger, Giant Eagle and Buehler’s Fresh Foods. A similar program was launched in Georgia with participation at Target, Publix and other retailers. Players can purchase Powerball and Mega Millions Quick Pick options in the regular checkout lanes using the card as payment. In Ohio, for 89 cents a player can access mobile play allowing one to buy and play Powerball and Mega Millions on their mobile device.


  • Michigan Lottery reached a significant milestone in 2018 – over $100 million in revenue from its iLottery program. Launched just 4 years ago, the online lottery gaming program offers a wide range of price points and games, including popular licensed properties such as MLB “Home Run Riches Online”. At the moment, the future of online lottery sales are in question due to the recent ruling by the courts in the US. The Department of Justice has extended the Wire Act Grace Period as the first wave of litigation is undertaken. As of August, 2018, six US states had launched online lottery programs: Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. 


  • Perhaps the most cutting-edge development on the horizon is IoT (Internet of Things). The increasing number of IoT devices provides an ever-growing number of data collection points. In time, lottery system operators will be able to collect better data on player preferences and experiences in order to more intelligently design games and systems that simplify and move lottery games even closer to what people want. Through mobile technology, there is potential access to more than 160 million prospective players. By 2020, the number of IoT devices is expected to top 20 billion. This shows the enormous potential to custom design and deliver lottery games, content, and important responsible gaming messages to massive audiences.      

One of the values that Fuseideas provides to its clients is to collect and share information on trends and developments in relevant industries. Staying on top of rapidly changing advances and innovations is one area where none of us can afford to fall behind. It is part of our role as a partner. Let us know if we can talk about a partnership with you and your colleagues. We’ll buy lunch.