Published: April 29, 2020

Harold Mays, Acting Director, Illinois Lottery

Harold Mays, Acting Director, Illinois Lottery 

How will the world be different when we come out of this crisis - and how will the lottery industry, retailing, consumer shopping and recreational behavior be different? 

 In general, I think people will be more guarded and aware of their personal safety and health.   This will affect how people behave and interact, both as a consumer and a provider of services and products.  Businesses will have to adjust their business model accordingly.


What might lottery operators be doing to position ourselves for success in the post-coronavirus world? 

 The COVID-19 crisis has forced us all to take a closer look at how we work to service our internal and external customers.  The lessons learned will help guide us to a better and more efficient way of doing business.


Lottery has performed better than other sectors in past economic recessions.  How severely will the economic repercussions of coronavirus impact Lottery? 

 Although Lottery has shown some resilience during tough times we are in an uncharted territory.  The jury is still out on what the overall impact on the industry will be.


What opportunities will emerge in the post-coronavirus world?  For instance, won't people be travelling less, and if so, might that be an opportunity to appeal to locally grown forms of recreation like Lottery and casino gaming?  For instance, in spite of months of social distancing, can't we expect that humans will quickly return to our natural state as highly social animals?

 As we have already seen, as restrictions on large gatherings and a focus on social distancing continue, people will seek out forms of entertainment and engagement they haven’t tried before.  Some of those options will survive into the post-COVID-19 world.  Others will fade and people will settle back into what they know to the extent they can.  Lotteries that can adjust to their players’ changing preferences will be better positioned to thrive in post-COVID-19 world.


How might we reinforce and build upon the symbiotic relationship that Lottery has always had with its retail partners?

 Lottery retail partners are the stars in this relationship.  Our role is to support them through this crisis and provide them what they need to help get through it.  I think that strengthens the bond that’s there already and helps chart a path to the future when the crisis subsides.


Legislators and regulators will have a lot on their plate over the coming months.  Even so, what can we do to push harder than ever to get approval to make Lottery products available online, i.e. iLottery?  And to push for authorization to invest in new games categories, and new technologies like in-lane sales and cashless transactions?  

 The justification for implementing new technologies for many lotteries has always been based in practicality.  How do we stay competitive in an ever-changing gaming landscape?  How do we engage with our players where and how they want to engage with us, at home, at the store, out and about?  How do we responsibly grow our player base to increase revenues to the good causes we provide funding for?  The COVID crisis is yet another practical reason for lotteries to leverage all the available tools to stay viable and operate today.

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