Public Gaming International Magazine May/June 2022

30 PUBLIC GAMING INTERNATIONAL • MAY/JUNE 2022 more distracted with new and different gaming options, like sports betting, casinos, and online iGaming? These other games-ofchance operators are working hard to show them something better, to compete head-tohead with Lottery. We need to continue to compete in the broader recreational entertainment industry and with other impulse-purchase items in the convenience store. But perhaps unlike a few years ago, I think we all realize that we are now also competing with other games-of-chance options. Competing with products that are in your own specific category changes the whole complexion of how we think about the mission to engage the consumer and retain player-ship. The challenge of getting attention and retaining interest and relevance becomes much more exacting when the consumer has more and more gaming options. Well, to your original point: How are we supposed to know what to do, what to show the customer, if we don’t ask them? A. Boston-Smith: We recognize that player registration is the window to the changing tastes and preferences of the players. That is how we capture the data that tells us everything we need to know. You refer to Steve Jobs' lack of confidence in the ability of focus groups to provide useful insight into consumer tastes and preferences. He also said he could have asked a thousand people and nobody would have told him they wanted a graphical user interface. In our industry, players have a surprising lack of insight into what motivates their play. Almost everyone, for instance, says they prefer the giant prize pool to be divided up to produce a large number of millionaires instead of a small number of centi-millionaires. But we know they play for the opportunity to win the giant jackpot. Capturing the record of all the real-world actions of the consumer is the most reliable way to understand how the player actually behaves. It’s not just asking what games they prefer or even what they like about a game. With the registered player, you are analyzing dwell-time, tracking their journey across channels, and capturing countless data-points that will inform you about what the player actually wants based on their real-life behaviour. Going forward, the importance of knowing the customer, understanding their tastes and preferences, and updating the products and delivery systems on an accelerated time-line will become mission-critical. The competition in the games-of-chance sector has been honing these data-mining competencies for many years and they now have their sights set on the lottery player. Following two years of disruption, during which Lottery has performed quite well, the games-of-chance sector is now in a state of flux. Easy access to a much wider diversity of gaming options has smoothed a path for consumers to engage with a wider variety of game categories. One result of more products, more consumer choice, and broader distribution is that the market will likely expand. Even so, there will clearly be losers as well as winners in the competition for playership. The good news is that the resilience of the lottery players’ loyalty is off-the-charts. It is, so to speak, our game to lose. Lottery has the customers, Lottery has the distribution network, Lottery has the games that people love to play. And Lottery knows better than anyone how to operate within an increasingly rigorous regulatory environment. It’s just a new era wherein lotteries everywhere, including North America, are adapting to a whole new competitive landscape, in which consumers migrate across multiple categories of gaming. Our competitors are capturing the data that is guiding their efforts to produce games that are more relevant and engaging, and an overall user experience that is customized to align with everyone’s personal communications and lifestyle. It is important to know whether the player prefers texts, emails, something else, or none of the above. Do they play only at retail, only online, only on their Mobile, only on self-serve, or some combination? Do they play across a variety of game categories and are responsive to bonusing promotions, or stick with Lottery and are more focused on loyalty points and benefits? It seems like the consumer is more willing now to share information about themselves for the benefit of building mutually beneficial relationships with companies that they want to do business with? A. Boston-Smith: They do need to perceive material benefits to sharing information and taking the time to pay attention to players clubs and loyalty programs. But we do see the whole process migrating from a focus on short-term sign-up benefits and incentives to a more organic or holistic process of developing a mutually rewarding relationship. Each generation of consumer is more sophisticated than the last. So, while security and other concerns of older consumers will always be of paramount importance, the next generation of consumers is more confident in the ability of technology and process engineering to function the way they are intended and protect their data. And they see the benefits of being more open to an interactive relationship, to sharing information and enabling brands to customize the user experience, deliver the products and services that are most relevant and avoid those that aren’t. Consumers are smart enough to recognize the benefits to a more open, transparent, and collaborative journey through life. So player registration is not just about online play? A. Boston-Smith: No, not at all. Finland has over 50% registered players and something like 90% play across multiple channels, including retail. The more interesting phenomenon is that a high percentage of registered players play only at retail. They registered for the benefits they receive as a registered player even though they don’t even play online. Norway and Sweden require players to register, so 100% of their players are registered. I am not advocating for a mandate like Sweden and Norway, but would just point out that player-ship is as high in those countries as it is in most others. Ray Bates moderated a panel discussion for the EL/WLA Marketing Seminar (a virtual conference Feb. 2-4) in which the panel discussed the trend towards player registration. Of course, our competitors in the casino sector have been highly focused on players and loyalty clubs for many years. Likewise, sports betting operators are pushing hard with aggressive sign-up bonusing to motivate players to register. These other sectors are steeped in the business of building the highly interactive relationship that is so key to effective player retention. With the largest customer base that stretches across the widest range of demographic profiles, and a uniquely massive retail network, Team Lottery is positioned to apply digital technology to build the sustainable relationships that will support ongoing growth and ever-increasing competitive advantage. n