Why More States Should Allow Online Lottery Sales

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Steve Mason
by Steve Mason
EVP Group Account Director, Lottery

As more and more U.S. consumers acquire their entertainment, information, and goods via their ever-more powerful and reliable mobile devices, state’s must align the distribution of lottery tickets and games with this new reality. To fail to do so will be to fall out of the consumer’s world, as their world becomes increasingly more online. This does not mean abandonment of the traditional retailer relationships. The purchase of lottery tickets is often an add-on, a spontaneous purchase at the register, and this will not change. In fact, in states where iLottery has been introduced, total lottery sales have increased, and there has been no dilution of sales through retailers.

The continuing growth in iLottery activity is founded in online facts: 96% of us own a cellphone, nearly three-quarters of US adults own either a laptop or a desktop computer, and approximately half own a tablet device. For the first time ever in 2019, U.S. consumer-time viewing media via smartphones surpassed time watching TV. 57% of consumers in the U.S. use a mobile device and retail app to find information on products and services before buying, and retail mobile-commerce in the U.S. is expected to reach $338 billion in 2020 with over 167 million mobile buyers active in 2020. Estimates are that there will be more than 187 million active mobile buyers by 2024.

These facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: meeting current and prospective customers where they are - online - is a sound marketing strategy, done in step with responsible gaming practices. In the case of the Pennsylvania iLottery, reaching $1 billion in sales in less than two years is proof of concept.

Drew Svitko, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Lottery said, “Our goal in offering our players the option for online/mobile play in May 2018 was simply to meet players where they are, which is online, and it has been exceptionally well-received.”

For the U.S. Lotteries offering online tickets and play, sales in iLottery increased 47% during the quarter ending March 31. In April, Michigan reported an iLottery sales increase of 40%, Pennsylvania +35%, New Hampshire +53%, Kentucky +30%, and North Carolina +35%. Clearly, players appreciated the ability to access their favorite lottery games and enjoy some much-needed entertainment and diversion online.

The continuing success of these iLottery operations, coupled with the compelling data on consumer online behavior and trends will eventually encourage remaining states to move ahead with online lottery sales.

In the words of Isaac Asimov, world famous author who not only predicted the future but quite often, inspired it, “No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”