In my previous columns, I have repeatedly emphasized identifying and understanding customers’ gambling motives. If and when lotteries want to improve their operations, they need to understand their current and potential new customers. Why is someone already gambling, and how can it potentially affect the acquisition of new players? Customer understanding also helps to target the products and services that are best suited to players. Based on the same information, individually responsible gaming can also be made more efficient.
The motives for gambling can be summarized in three or four main themes. For lottery games, the most significant reason is dreaming. The other two major motives are entertainment and habit. The fourth motive is partly related to the previous ones, and it is linked to sport. Studies show that charity, for example, is the most significant reason to gamble with only a small number of customers.
The motives of an individual customer to gamble vary by time and place. The customer can dream of a Euro Millions jackpot on Friday. On Saturday, the same customer can leave his lottery ticket as he has done for 20 years. When there is an interesting football match on TV on Sunday, the customer bets a few euros to get a little extra excitement to watch the game.
Most lotteries have workable solutions to fulfil their dream motive. Lotteries continue to offer the biggest jackpots in the gambling world, allowing people to dream of a significant change in life, even if it is not very likely to happen. Lotteries also have enough to offer for smaller dreams. You can buy a scratch card for a few euros to win thousands or tens of thousands of euros.
A large number of lotteries have also started to offer sports games. On the other hand, entertainment-related qualities are not, at least not yet, the strength of lotteries.
A significant factor in entertainment is social interaction, which can happen through a physical meeting or in a digital environment. However, it is important to share experiences and do things together with other people. People need to enjoy the things they do. How have gambling companies and, above all, lotteries managed to take these things into account in their offerings? Undoubtedly not very well, but there are many opportunities.
There are many ways to support social communication related to gambling. Not all customers have switched from a retail channel to a digital channel, as you can still meet familiar salespersons and other players at the points of sale, with whom you can talk, eg, gaming-related matters.
Gambling is still a way for many customers at points of sale. The customers have been able to leave their lottery tickets at the same point of sale for decades. Lotteries generally still have an extensive sales network, the only purpose of which is not to make a profit but also to meet customers. For the same reason, acquiring new customers is easier in the retail channel than in the digital channel.
One workable solution to increasing social collaboration in gambling is syndicate gaming. Gambling companies offer opportunities to participate in gambling together with friends or family. There are also point-of-sale syndicates where customers can buy shares of big games. Selecting numbers and bets, thrilling results, and sharing experiences with other team members are elements that enhance the customer experience and make gambling more entertaining than playing alone.
It is also possible to add social elements to gambling in digital sales channels. In digital channels, it is also possible to offer syndicate portions generated by the gaming system. Customers can also create their own parties and play games together. Some lotteries have already created platforms where party members can discuss games and participate in gambling-related competitions. It is also essential for gambling companies to offer these services on a mobile channel, as increasing digital gambling occurs on mobile. On top of all that, people use mobile a lot for all other communication.
Gambling companies, including lotteries, are increasingly competing with each other, as are companies offering social and casual games. Gaming companies that provide entertainment games have always made their games entertaining, and those games often also contain social elements. Many casual gaming companies are consciously striving to approach the world of gambling. There are tons of sites where customers could play social/casual games with the possibility of winning real money. In most countries, direct cash winnings are not possible, but in any case, the trend is from casual games to gambling.
Similarly, many gambling companies are looking to develop new products that incorporate more and more social and casual gaming elements. For example, to survive the result of einstant games in the lottery product range, activities have been added to make the gaming experience entertaining. The gambling companies also have features that allow players to share their gambling experiences with their friends. It can be said that gambling companies are trying to approach the traditional plot of entertainment gaming companies. Both social gaming companies and gambling operators are looking for solutions to combine the best features of social games and gambling products. Competition is intensifying and expanding into new areas.
Lotteries may have even greater difficulty implementing entertainment elements in their games than casinos for example. This is especially true for traditional lottery games, where the low payback percentage and slow game rhythm make it difficult to entertain the games.
Adding social and entertainment elements to gambling improves the customer experience, which in turn improves business results. However, improving business results does not automatically mean an increase in problem gambling. Increasing customer understanding and thereby improving the customer experience also helps prevent gambling problems. It’s worth remembering that gambling is an entertaining and fun activity for about 90-95% of customers. However, we also need to take better care of the 5-10% group, for whom the situation is something completely different.
Jari has enjoyed a long and successful career in the gambling sector, having cut his teeth in the horse racing and betting business. He has spent the biggest part of that time with Veikkaus, the Finnish national lottery and gambling operator, where he was responsible for horse and sports betting business. While there he started digital sale channels, introduced the first customer-based strategy and took care of international relationships and businesses. Having resigned from the lottery in spring 2020, he established The Finnish Gambling Consultants Ltd and is now helping lotteries and other gambling operators and suppliers to further develop their businesses.