Jason Lisiecki, VP of North America at IWG, spoke exclusively with Lottery Daily this week about the firm’s ongoing US activities, product innovation and a collaborative strategy that will help the firm keep lockstep with its lottery partners.
Lottery Daily: You recently announced new deals with lotteries in Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire. What has worked so well for IWG to drive home this impressive market penetration, and do you have plans to go live with any other North American lotteries in 2020?
Jason Lisiecki (JL): It has been a stellar period for IWG by working so closely with our North American lottery partners and driving revenue for good causes to new heights. We’ve seen tremendous growth in every jurisdiction and I attribute that to two key principles. Firstly, our product continues to improve and evolve based on previous successes. And secondly, our relationships with lottery partners to deliver custom and exciting content specific for respective markets.
In terms of our product innovation, this is the result of years of experience in fine tuning the right themes, math and experiences to ensure player satisfaction and entertainment is met. We know so much more today than just a few years ago, and our data capabilities are better than ever. We have been able to weave these important elements into our product development and it has really paid off for our lottery partners and beneficiaries.
Furthermore, working closely with lotteries is key to our success and staying in-tune to their overarching strategy as an organization, in addition to the online component, is so important. This allows us to see opportunities for cross promotion activities or understand how their players are taking a new game, price point or marketing message. While the fundamentals of the games may be similar across jurisdictions, applying a level of customization on a Lottery-by-Lottery basis allows for the local experts to help us understand how their players tick and to get the product right.
Lottery Daily: With COVID-19 having had such an obvious and dramatic impact on retail lottery sales, do you think that lottery operators will now finally look more seriously at an omnichannel approach?
JL: COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact everywhere you look and retail lottery is no different. The unfortunate reality is that many lotteries who were fully dependent on the retail sector to fill state budgets will have a huge hole to fill due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would say from our perspective, this has resulted in more lotteries reaching out to learn more about best practices related to ilottery.
However, it is very important to note that many of these lotteries, many of whom we have been speaking with for years, have always wanted to go online but have faced unnecessary resistance by lawmakers or lobbying groups. Now, in an amazing twist, lotteries are being criticized for not being online already, all the while many have tried but have hit roadblocks. I am hopeful this invokes change in the industry, and I think it will. The fact is, it is 2020 and consumers expect to buy products online, and lottery really should not be treated differently.
Lottery Daily: One concern that’s constantly raised is that online instant win products might cannibalise retail ticket sales. How would you counter that?
JL: The best counter is to support with data. Our proprietary industry research finds that for lotteries who sell a full suite of products online, the cumulative retail sales in those markets has increased $2.5bn since ilottery has been offered. Not only has retail grown, it has thrived.
The fact is a physical scratch off game offers many attributes that an online instant win game cannot offer. For example, a retail scratch game may feature top prizes of up to $3,000,000 and millions of tickets in print runs that have been established for over 30 or 40 years of market maturity.
Amazingly, Lotteries will offer multiple $3,000,000 prizes and when they are won, that single game still produces millions in revenue. Try incorporating that prize level on an online instant win game – it just would not work and frankly is not needed. An internet instant win game may only need a top prize of $100,000 to be successful.
While technically a physical scratch game and an online instant win game have the same backbone, both offer different product attributes that appeal to a wide player base. There will always be demand for retail products and the emergence of iLottery is completely complementary.
Lottery Daily: While good games are vital, of equal importance is the platform they’re delivered on. Can you tell us more about IWG’s platform and the differentiation points compared to your competitors?
JL: One thing we have become very good at is offering customized games and products for our lottery partners. We encourage a review/feedback process and work with them to tailor the game to fit markets specifically. We also move very quickly to deliver content while maintaining a very high degree of integrity and success.
Our Remote Games Server (RGS) is a product itself and has continued to improve and iterate over the years. It is now deployed in several markets on a localized level and across dozens of operators globally. It provides Lotteries a freedom, extension of resource if you will, to make hundreds of games available to their players.
Lottery Daily: Finally, what’s in the pipeline for IWG in the next few months and can your customers look forward to some fresh innovations this year?
JL: Our product roadmap is full of exciting opportunities that we will be unveiling over the coming months. We constantly have a team dedicated to developing new mechanics, themes and math models that will prove to be complementary to our lottery partner’s portfolios. In 2020, we’ll look to introduce new seasonal content as well licensed property opportunities to expand into new player demographics. No doubt it will be an exciting back-half of the year in 2020, and our enthusiastic team is working harder than ever to drive growth further in the North American Lottery market.