Sustainability and environmental policies have been a defining feature of Romana Girandon’s tenure with the European Lotteries (EL), and this will continue to be the case as she assumes the Presidential duties of the association.
Speaking to Lottery Daily shortly after her election at the EL’s last General Assembly, Girandon emphasised the importance of socially responsible and ethical practices for lottery operators, both private and state-owned.
Can you give us a breakdown of your background in the lottery sector and your work with EL so far?
I first started working for Loterija Slovenije in 2010. Three years later I was appointed as the company’s CEO. I’ve been a member of The European Lotteries Executive Committee since 2019, while I was also chairing EL Sustainability and Responsible
Gaming working group.
In 2021, I was elected one of the two association’s vice presidents. As one of the smallest lotteries in Europe, I’m proud of our reputation and support in the international arena as well as the chance to co-shape the development of our sector in Europe.
What will be the defining principles of the EL strategy under your leadership?
Embracing our diversity, we will continue to develop our common values of responsibility, sustainability and integrity. We will be focusing on our purpose and act for the benefit of society in the broadest sense.
Given your background in ESG, can we expect environmental policies and causes to become a key focus of the EL?
Yes, sustainability is and will be EL’s focus further on. Not because of my background but because being here for the public benefit is in our, EL’s, DNA. EL stands for a sound and sustainable model for the benefit of society. We all know that risky forms of gambling can do harm to people and cause a lot of social costs.
I believe that any type of gambling should be operated in an ethical way, caring about peoples’ well-being and benefiting the public good. That’s why EL supports lower-risk games and services that can be fun and safe at the same time, reducing social harm to the lowest.
As president, do you see it as an issue that certain lotteries have failed to launch a digital product?
I’m not certain what you have in mind. EL is bringing together a very diverse international community. We are 70 organisations of different types, sizes, ownerships, regions and cultures.
And regulation of lotteries and other games is, offline and online, different in all the jurisdictions where EL’s Members operate. Therefore, it is not only impossible to know every Members’ game portfolio, but would also be unfair to comment.
What are the underlying advantages National Lottery operators have over private competitors, both in the lottery and betting/casino spaces?
As I said, EL members are very different, also in ownership. What brings us together, is to do good for the benefit of society. All EL members operate only in those jurisdictions in which they are licensed.
All put the public benefit first. In my opinion, much more important than any company’s ownership, are its ethical standards on one hand and demanding regulatory environment that protects the consumer and the interests of society on another.
If every gambling operator, by contributing substantial public fees and ensuring they do not cause harm while generating income, were to allocate a significant portion of their earnings towards benefiting society, their ownership structure would become irrelevant.
In markets such as Sweden and the Netherlands, it is debated whether state lotteries should offer other gambling services. What is your take on this ongoing conflict?
We don’t take sides in national debates unless specifically asked. Personally, I think all services connected to lotteries or gambling should in the first place be conducted according to the highest ethical standards, with a very clear positive effect on society.
Meaning reducing social harm to the lowest while maximally funding public good. As long as this is so, it is not the most important whether lotteries or someone else is offering these services.
All European states face a cost-of-living crisis… Can lottery maintain its position as a people’s product as consumers tighten their spending?
Lotteries function on the principle of having many players spending small amounts of money. Of course, in difficult economic times, it’s not easy for people to spend even a small amount of money.
Still, research in my country shows that people play the lottery also because they know they are contributing to publicly important good causes while not putting their health at risk.
Even in the worst economic circumstances, we have an important cause, so we will do our best to keep up being interesting and affordable for people even if they have less to spend overall.
Stay tuned for Lottery Daily’s second Q&A with the European Lotteries, featuring General Secretary Arjan van ‘t Veer