Following regulation, there has been an explosion of activity in the US. Although in many states this is limited to retail, there is no denying the opportunities there are for lotteries with the foresight and technological wherewithal to grasp them.
The direct benefit to lotteries of implementing sports betting is, without doubt, significant cross-sell potential for lotteries across sportsbook, and going into this year's G2E, I think this should be a discussion point for both verticals. With lottery revenue slowing and performance maturing, operators need to take advantage of new means of generating turnover and look towards attracting a new demographic, making sports a fantastic option.
Most lotteries taking their first steps outside lottery more often than not turn to instants, bingo or soft games, offering highly-engaging and targeted side games that boost capacity to be an all-round entertainment product.
Sport fits particularly well within this, as it can fill the timetable outside lottery while generating worthy, incremental income, and with many lotteries also sponsoring local sports teams, it seems a logical fit. We have already witnessed the success of this method with the likes of BCLC, Lottomatica and Française des Jeux.
The nature of lottery draws means they inherently face an uphill struggle when it comes to maintaining a player’s attention. The excitement and anticipation of the big prize swiftly comes and goes, rendering the success of increasing player dwell time a concerted challenge.
Snackable content is absolutely key to attracting and retaining customer attention. Lottery customers are already online in large numbers, so holding a player’s attention while not losing out to other forms of online entertainment means lotteries need to deliver a richer spread of content.
There are visible patterns where many customers seem to be turning to fantasy sports to fulfil this need when real money gambling is not an option. Put simply, lotteries have to try and play at two ends of the spectrum; on one hand generating market leading, life-changing
jackpots, and on the other, offering something which feels accessible and achievable. While the reality is most people don’t experience the thrill of a big win, they need to feel like they want to be part of it.
In the long term, I expect we will begin to see genuine product reinvention with the overlapping of verticals, and people talking less in terms of products and more in terms of experiences. Lotteries should be embracing sports betting to ride the crest of this growing wave.
Having a platform that is committed to the ongoing development of sophisticated responsible gaming tooling, capable of being deployed across sportsbook functionality, is an important factor. Lotteries deploying sportsbook technology must reach beyond regulatory obligations and continue to treat it as an opportunity rather than a threat, as they roll out new betting and gaming functionalities.
At Bede, we’re doing a lot of work with our operators to look at players’ health. We are leveraging our platform, which captures all data in real time and our rules engine to enable this. The challenge is that while fraud is largely binary, responsible gaming is a spectrum and we are looking to work across the industry to create the healthiest environment.
Competing with traditional sportsbooks
For US lotteries, one of the greatest assets they have at their disposal is the trust and respect they hold with customers built from the history and weight behind their brand.
With new market entrants, who are unfamiliar to US players, chomping at the bit to claim their slice of the sports betting pie, lotteries can leverage their brand recognition and strong reputations to capture swathes of market share in which new entrants will still be finding their feet. The success of this is already proven, primarily in Europe, with the addition of sports.
To take advantage of this opportunity, lotteries will need to act quickly, partnering with an appropriate, agile digital platform which provides the autonomy and flexibility to rapidly
plug in and activate the right sportsbook technology to appeal to their target players. For many lotteries, they are frustrated with their incumbent suppliers and need to look for new, agile and proven digital platforms.