Marco Tasso, Senior Vice President of Global Lottery Marketing at IGT, spoke with La Fleur’s Magazine on the company’s vision for evolving the lottery. The interview spanned a wide range of topics relating to how IGT is modernizing play, including its lottery-game innovation process, a new category of games to appeal to new and existing players, and its involvement in industry-wide efforts to adopt cashless payments and establish a standard lottery Application Program Interface (API) to create an optimal solution for multilane environments.
La Fleur’s: IGT’s theme at NASPL this year is Modernizing Play. Why did you choose it?
Marco Tasso: Our industry is entering a period when we can expect to see unprecedented advances. These advances can include everything from the retail operating model to the player experience to the form and content of the games themselves.
We’ve been envisioning the role we want to play in this evolution, and our starting point is always listening to our customers. We know from the most recent IGT customer satisfaction study that customers’ needs are changing. After more than a decade of steady growth, the player base has leveled.
The primary concern of lotteries for the next two to three years is pursuing growth, whether through new or expanded sales channels, increased same-store sales, attracting new players, or refreshing portfolios with new games.
The Modernizing Play theme expresses our vision for helping customers achieve growth in each of these areas as we continue to move the industry forward through our focus on innovation. This vision is authentic to our DNA. As an organization, IGT is able to leverage a unique, global understanding of the player experience and a substantial investment in developing leading-edge technologies. Our premium content can be deployed across multiple products and channels, and we have game-development studios across the globe that share innovations.
Just as importantly, we walk in our customers’ shoes every day as managers of lottery businesses. Our operational experience and the reliability of our technology help us support lotteries in every aspect of the value chain they manage.
When we consider the long list of “firsts” IGT has achieved on behalf of lottery customers in the past four decades, we’re all the more committed to continuing to help customers take advantage of the many possibilities for growth that are now coming into view.
La Fleur’s: Can you give us an example of how you’re modernizing play?
Marco Tasso: Again, we start by looking at our customers’ needs. As part of pursuing growth, our customers have told us that they want to keep innovating. We look at the larger trends and technologies that are influencing the future of work and play, and we help to bring them into focus at the industry level.
For example, in terms of the ubiquity of mobile, we’re currently pilot testing our PlaySpot™ mobile solution, which creates one integrated lottery experience.
Using the PlaySpot app, players could purchase retail lottery tickets, play live keno and Instant Win games, and check and collect winnings in a licensed retail location on any mobile device connected via Bluetooth to a lottery network.
We have also totally redesigned our lottery-game innovation process to continually deliver new content to the market and engage new players.
Through this process, called FutureGame, we are engineering the next generation of game experiences with a global, player-focused, data-driven perspective that involves stakeholders from across the lottery business. The first of these games will be delivered to customers this year, continuing into 2018.
It’s important to note that we believe innovation can build on current installations without being disruptive.
We have reimagined our full portfolio of products and services, and we’re sharing it at NASPL to demonstrate the many solutions customers can integrate into their operations right now to help increase revenues.
La Fleur’s: You spoke about attracting a new generation of players. Is it possible to innovate for existing players as well?
Marco Tasso: Yes, absolutely, and one of the first outcomes of our FutureGame process is a brand new kind of game that we are introducing this year under the category name NOW & LATER™.
It’s a draw game with a scratch component, a hybrid that offers players the best of both worlds—the instant thrill of a scratch-off ticket and the anticipation and extended experience of a traditional lottery drawing.
Players activate the draw portion of their ticket for any drawing of their choice, whether it’s the same day, the following week, or a year from purchase.
The first of these games to be launched is called Black Pearl. We expect this category to appeal to both new and existing players.
We’ve also introduced our newest licensed property, The Voice, with a turnkey instant-ticket promotion available to all lotteries worldwide.
This second-chance promotion includes not only the chance to win up to $1 million, but also the chance to attend the live finale of the show. Experiential prizes like this are particularly appealing to Millennial players.
Another area of modernization that will make it easier for both new and existing players to engage with lottery is the industry-wide effort to establish a standard lottery API (Application Program Interface).
Members of IGT’s global lottery organization have been involved for several years in NASPL’s API initiative, including the technical and retailer-advocate working groups.
The goal is to create an optimal solution for multilane environments using retailers’ existing POS system and increase lottery sales by making our industry’s products as accessible and competitive as other impulse-purchase items.
La Fleur’s: Are there any other initiatives you’re involved with on an industry level?
Marco Tasso: An issue related to Open API is the adoption of cashless payments. Consumers are demanding it. Research shows that 47% of weekly lottery players dislike paying in cash, and cash is now the least preferred payment option across all age groups. Some lotteries have been piloting cashless solutions, and there are many forces outside the lottery industry pushing for adoption.
NASPL recently established a separate working group around this issue to compile information from every state on current laws and practices, and put together responsible guidelines for the industry. We are active participants in this working group and support the industry goal to make cashless payment options available to more lottery players.
We’re currently supporting our customers as they pilot cashless programs, including the Georgia Lottery, which has had a cashless pilot for the past year and is sharing its results with the industry.
Because we’re always looking ahead, we are already building our lottery vending machines and other products to support cashless as a key sales channel for our customers and for retailers. All of our efforts to modernize play are to help our customers stay ahead of the game.
For more insights on cashless payment and players’ preferences, download the white paper “Achieving Relevance: Modernizing the Lottery Experience” at igt.com/LotteryBlog.
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