The Future of Lottery: Q&A with Nigel Birrell, CEO, Lottoland

Lottery, the oldest form of gambling in the world has clearly stood the test of time as it remains one of the most popular forms of gaming in every corner of the globe. However, as a product, it was still not immune to the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the digital age we’re living in, many state and national lotteries are still heavily dependent on retail sales. In the wake of recent events, some believe this is all about to change and the lottery industry will now be forced to embrace the digital opportunities available.

We caught up with Nigel Birrel, CEO of market leading iLottery operator, Lottoland, to gain his perspective on the future of this mammoth industry sector.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly highlighted some of the weaknesses in the lottery industry, particularly as far as the digital offerings. Do you think this will benefit the iLottery industry in general, moving forward?  

“I don’t believe it can do anything but benefit the iLottery industry, however it is a shame that it has taken a global pandemic to make people stand up and realise how important a digital offering is.

We are living in a digital age and the stark reality of this has been highlighted by Covid-19. Those Lottery operators who don’t offer their customers an alternative to retail will have been hit hard over the last few months, especially those that had to cancel draws.

Lottoland is purely an online offering, we have over 12 million customers globally and operate in 15 markets. We are consistently innovating and improving our offer to ensure our customers have not only got a great deal of choice but a great user experience in a safe and secure environment.”

As we’ve seen retail players forced to go online as their only option, do you expect the general demographic of iLottery customers to change?

“I think we have seen a shift taking place over the last four/five years with more and more people betting online, the pandemic will have just accelerated this further. As I said above we are living in a digital world. People want everything to be readily available at their finger-tips – they want the choice and options to bet when they want.”

How has this change from retail to online impacted Lottoland?

“Lottoland is purely online, we have no retail presence.

It is fair to say we did see an up lift in new registrations during the pandemic, this will have been down to a number of reasons –people being stuck at home so betting online and people who normally would have bet on live sporting events moving over to bet on lottery instead.”

What was the biggest lesson learnt from covid-19 during the lockdown, and how will Lottoland use it moving forward?

“The biggest learning for us was just how adaptable and agile we are as a company – we did think we were but covid-19 proved it!

Our staff have been incredible and so resilient during these times – I am really impressed by how well they have adapted to the change. We saw no signs of negative effects and even saw an increase in productivity!

It was also good to see how quickly we could adapt our plans – for example, when national draws were postponed or cancelled, we were able to put alternative measures in place.

As a company we just need to keep doing what we are doing – putting our customers at the heart of our decision making and empowering and trusting our employees to continue to do an amazing job!”

Editor’s note: It seems that the pandemic has forced lottery operators to embrace digital. According to Nigel, and probably many others would agree, it shouldn’t have taken these extreme circumstances to highlight the importance of a comprehensive digital offering, but nevertheless, here we are.

Sometimes innovations are born out of necessity and never has there been a more crucial time for innovation than now. The future of lottery is digital and companies like Lottoland can provide a great template on what a successful, adaptable iLottery operator can look like.

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