Public Gaming International Magazine May/June 2022

29 PUBLIC GAMING INTERNATIONAL • MAY/JUNE 2022 that of the customer. The brand itself and the experience is the consideration, not where they are playing. Instead of pitting retail and digital to compete against each, they can work in harmony, creating smooth transitions for the customer between each and lifting each other up. De-channelizing our games by thinking like our players, significantly increases the potential for engagement and brand traction amongst our customers. Digital enables players to evolve their play-style in whatever ways suit them. Many players will continue to play only at retail because that is what they have always done, that is what they are comfortable with and like to do and that is fine. They may use their digital account to enter second-chance draws and check winning numbers and their loyalty points and nothing more and that is fine. The advantage to both operator and player accrue, though, when the full capabilities of a robust Player Account Management system (PAM) are activated and used. Eventually, all gaming activity will be managed within a single PAM. Everyone benefits. And we might hope that the ease and convenience enjoyed by the player may even lead to increased play. The fully integrated digital platform is also the most vital tool to promote responsible gaming. Anonymous play at Retail provides none of the tools or avenues for communication to assist the players in their journey towards an active and healthy play-style. The interactive relationship enabled by digital platforms is the key to evolving the customized dialogue that keep the players engaged and receptive to messaging that promotes responsible play. What is the timeline for activating a fully-integrated digital platform? A. Boston-Smith: The timeline is today, yesterday, now. I think you should maybe be asking when will it be too late? At what point will retailers, operators, and players have all moved into the new world of fully-integrated digital platforms, and anyone who is not there will be at a perilous disadvantage? One part of the answer is that it depends on the maturity of the market. Ontario, for instance, has already evolved from a monopoly to an open market with multiple gaming operators. That means the provincial gaming corporation, Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG), now legally competes head-to-head with a wide variety of online providers – and I say legally because OLG has always competed with grey market gaming operators. We have witnessed first-hand that OLG has always held itself to an accelerated schedule of technology improvements and player enhancements that deliver the optimal player experience. One of the things they are doing to differentiate themselves is to ensure their portfolio of game categories is available to its players across multiple delivery channels to enable opportunities for the players to migrate seamlessly based on their preferences. This requires digital integration across multiple systems. Bede is pleased to be one of OLG’s technology partners in their journey to be the players’ destination of choice for all games-of-chance. It is not a project with a beginning and an end. It is a continuous journey to walk with the customer, to change as their expectations change, and to embrace the opportunity to make obsolete the things that may have worked well in times past but are no longer the pull they once were and to be constantly building for the future. OLG’s vision has inspired us to reimagine how the digital platform can transform the player experience for the next generation of consumers. How is the role of retail evolving? A. Boston-Smith: Retail continues to be the face of Lottery to the customer, and Lottery’s massive and proprietary network of retailers is a distinct and powerful competitive advantage. Retailers expect to be a full partner in the fully integrated digital platform. The symbiotic relationship between Lottery and Retailer won’t only continue, it will be stronger than ever, with both sides benefitting more than ever. Retailers are like a ubiquitous billboard for Lottery, POS displays and signage and clerks who serve Lottery players. Retailers know they need Lottery to drive store traffic and collaborate with them on ways to modernize their relationship for the benefit of Lottery, Retailer, and Consumer alike. Lottery’s digital platform can even help retailers in their efforts to modernize and build out the new sets of KPIs being applied to measure and understand consumer shopping behaviour. We are all in this together, stretching to continually improve our products and services, and the retail shopping experience to exceed consumer expectations. Steve Jobs famously said that the consumer does not know what they want till we show it to them. How do we reconcile that with the notion of “customer-driven innovation”? A. Boston-Smith: There’s something to what Steve Jobs says. I think he is being a little disingenuous, though, in neglecting to explain how we are supposed to know what to show them. Traditionally, Lottery has thought of itself as being somewhat unique – competing in the “broader entertainment industry” but not necessarily competing with others in the games-of-chance industry, like casinos. In this case, until and unless they are shown something better, lottery players will likely be satisfied with a slow and steady rate of evolution. They may be hoping we show them some exciting new game concepts and new ways of accessing the games. But until we show it to them, lottery players could be expected to continue to buy what we give them, to play the games that we offer them in the stores where they are offered. But how about when the players become more and “Consumers don’t distinguish between ‘distributional channels’. They don’t operate in a channelized world and so neither should we.”