Public Gaming International Magazine May/June 2022

50 PUBLIC GAMING INTERNATIONAL • MAY/JUNE 2022 I feel that digitally-mediated interaction does have its drawbacks. For instance, digital participants are typically less prepared to bring in their own view and to engage in creative problem-solving discussions. The more challenging or nuanced a topic is, the more in-depth-discussion it requires to get new, fresh, and innovative thinking and ideas … the more we struggle with digital tools. The discussion of difficult issues becomes a matter of mutual trust, of motivation in that moment to become part of the solution instead of staying as a passive observer in a discussion. Being together for those kinds of meetings can make the difference between a nonproductive discussion and moving forward with purpose, resolve, and an action-plan. Effective solutions and execution depend on the active involvement of the whole team, so we have and will continue to strengthen also our in-person formats, as circumstances allow. At first, we thought that hybrid work-style formats might be a solution. But the more we tried, the more we were disappointed. Hybrid solutions, where some participants meet in person while others join in via video-conference-tools seem to result in lower in-person participation, and it is the in-person participants who end up producing the most relevant results. As a result, we try to prepare a wellbalanced mix of online and offline meetings and seminars. Digital offers serve an important purpose by enabling a larger number of participants to structure and prepare a theme or to communicate basic ideas and messages. That preparation helps everyone to be most productive for the on-site-meetings that follow. The platform for tackling problematic or difficult issues needs the trust, energy and feeling of inter-dependence that only comes with the physical presence of in-person meetings. Vision for the future: How might the EL and its services be different going forward than it was two and a half years ago? H. Höltkemeier: EL will be hybrid in some ways, meeting in different formats depending on the topic. But now, after more than two years of disruption, I see another change that might affect us with at least the same power as digitalization has so far. After a decade of fighting for the “best” regulation and avoiding negative impacts from European and national regulations, we now recognize more than ever the “power of market”. After many years of turbulence, regulatory frameworks are mostly fixed. Also, due to the successful work of EL and its members, the subsidiarity-principle is accepted by EU and high-courts. For example, the lottery-monopoly model is quite safe in most countries. Therefore, the fight is now moving from arguing about regulatory issues to competing in the markets. Depending on the power and effectiveness of agents of law-enforcement by the state, the new competition fights against the new rules required in its licenses, or tries to interpret those rules in ways not intended by the regulators, or tries to circumvent regulatory hurdles to qualify for a license by just buying licensed competitors. Beside their status as monopoly-operators which are fully supported by the government, Lotteries are becoming an interesting field of investment as some governments explore options to monetize assets like their stateowned lottery. I think we may see ongoing changes to owner-management structures in the lottery sector. Of course, that may in turn have significant residual impacts on our channel and technology partnerships and supplier relationships. And last but not least, this will drive changes to the focus and services of EL. There may be fewer discussions about legal and regulatory issues and instead a shift in focus over to competition law, to market-insights from the perspective of international investors, to understanding the strategies of unlicensed businesses and the impact of international operators on local markets. Time does not stand still. Like all customer-focused enterprises, EL is evolving its value-proposition to stay relevant for its members. Last but not least, how might the war in Ukraine affect EL? H. Höltkemeier: First of all, the Russian attack on Ukraine affected us from the very first moment. EL took a clear position and decided to revoke EL membership of Russian and Belarussion members. EL members coordinated furthermore to help the people in Ukraine in whatever ways we can going forward. In the process, we have learned that while there is a broad base of support also with lottery-money, this leaves less room for initiatives to support Ukraine as a state on the level of our association. EL-ExCom decided therefore to focus on our two Ukrainian members and to reach out directly to them. As far as we can foresee now, we will focus mainly on supporting their teams and on rebuilding their lottery business after the war which will hopefully end soon. That’s the most important thing – we hope that this war and the suffering in Ukraine will in fact end soon! EL Membership Reconvenes for Industry Days after a too-long hiatus! continued from page 10 "Houston, have you seen the latest issue of Public Gaming Magazine?"