In a year of uncertainties, shutdowns and shifts in consumer behavior, primary instant game partnerships are demonstrating that when the going gets tough, protecting performance and profits is possible.

“All 10 of the Top 10 performing lotteries in the U.S. for instant game per capita sales are operating at a high level of success with an instant game partner that provide all or nearly all of their games,” said John Schulz, Senior VP Instant Products for Scientific Games.

The company is currently creating and manufacturing an average of more than 91% of instant games for the Top 10 performers. Six of the Top 10 participate in the Scientific Games Enhanced Partnership (SGEP) program, which includes services such as analytics and insights, portfolio management, inside sales, advanced logistics for warehousing and distribution, and retail optimization.

During COVID, U.S. lotteries using SGEP experienced an average of 20% growth in instant sales and non-SGEP lotteries grew 9%. In fact, 12 of the lotteries using SGEP experienced record instant game sales in FY2020: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

“The SGEP contract is a true partnership, where both Scientific Games and lottery staff can work together for a common goal. During the pandemic, by using enhanced data analytics and predictive modeling, we were able to ensure that our retailers maintained optimal inventory, which ultimately led to record sales for fiscal year 2020 for 12 of our partner lotteries,” said Schulz.

With late Q1 and Q2 riddled with issues caused by COVID-19, these lotteries were able to proactively mitigate any interruption to their supply chains, which ultimately kept the retailer network supplied with games. Now, as some states face spikes in COVID cases and shutdown scenarios may be on the horizon once again, relationships are a hot topic.

“One of the complex challenges under a shared printing model versus a primary relationship is the ability for lotteries to manage the games, supply chain, vendors, and communication. Scientific Games’ primary relationship with 27 U.S. customers allows us to pro-actively navigate through the pandemic with limited disruptions,” explains Schulz.

SGEP programs use an advanced inventory management system to provide predictive orders for the retailer network even when lottery generated inside sales orders are not available due to limited COVID-19 staffing resources—or when a lottery’s operations are substantially reduced as in a pandemic-related shutdown.

The four marketing pillars that SGEP is founded upon are product solutions, advanced logistics, retail optimization, and digital engagement. Scientific Games’ Tel-Sell (inside sales) team serves the lottery’s retailers, making sure players’ favorite games are always in stock.

Statistically, SGEP performs 57% better than other distribution models. Game development and marketing plans are informed by the company’s MAP™ system, which spans 2.9 million+ data points of weekly sales data, 56,000+ instant games, and 44,000 game images. Real-time trends in consumer behavior during COVID is also factored into planning.

“Both the SGEP and primary provider relationship allows for strategic portfolio management versus game-by-game product management,” shares Schulz. “Pairing it with our consumer research that is closely tracking shifting player behaviors during the pandemic allows us to perfect the portfolio and work together with the lottery to adapt quickly to market changes.”

The company has also worked with a number of customers to protect profits during COVID through additional digital engagement, 2nd chance promotions and iLottery (where regulations permit).

“It’s really about trusting your instant game business to expertise and results that cannot be matched,” says Schulz.

In unpredictable times, it’s an approach that future-proofs lottery profits.