BCLC has diversified its online portfolio to incorporate its new Digital Instants category that will attract the traditional lottery player. Internet gaming in British Columbia is branded “PlayNow.” The crown corporation offers a full program of casino products that include slots and licensed products. In fiscal 2018, the lottery also did C$1.2 billion in traditional lottery sales.
The lottery went live on August 30, 2017 with five new Digital Instants and a Digital Instants page. This also kicked off a biweekly launch schedule where every second Wednesday, a new Digital Instant is launched on PlayNow. The online Digital Instant product page is listed after the lottery products on the main website navigation.
In fiscal 2019, eCasino net sales (GGR) is expected to surpass C$106 million, which represents a 24% increase over C$87 million in fiscal 2018. Also, while approximately 10% of the net sales were derived from Digital Instants, over 60% of eCasino players engaged with an Instants product.
“BC has great market penetration in retail lottery (70%-80% of general population) and we have seen a strong transition of those players into online lottery sales” explained Stewart Groumoutis, Senior Manager, eCasino & Platform Operations, BCLC. “However we understand that we will never see that level of engagement or participation in our Casino product portfolio. There are players who enjoy a more casual gambling experience and are not interested in traditional Casino games. We respect that and want to provide entertainment experiences that align with the needs of those players”.
BCLC recognizes the opportunity where it can provide an enhanced entertainment experience for its lottery players while they’re on the website. “It allows a player to buy a lottery ticket and then play 5 or 10 rounds of these instant games,” said Groumoutis. “On mobile it’s even more important because it’s great snackable content that players can engage with, have a little bit of fun and hopefully win some money. It expands the lottery experience they have with us now, which is retail-style in nature, and builds more of a brand and entertainment relationship with playnow.com. The digital instant category is really where we see that opportunity.”
Naturally BCLC has closely studied other lotteries which sell Instants, particularly North American jurisdictions where the revenue generated from Instants can represent a significant portion of total online sales. Groumoutis maintains a key factor for recognizing success is the gaming environment. “In the absence of a Casino product suite you see more traditional Casino players engaging in Instants. You’ll see a preference for a faster style of game and more games per session with players using the auto reveal. The way the players engage is closer to a slot machine than what you would see in a traditional Scratch and Win style instant game,” said Groumoutis.
That is why BCLC’s online division recognized the necessity to “temper expectations” with the potential sales opportunity. “One of the biggest indicators of the opportunity in the Instant space is whether the lottery offers a full casino suite. Instants are still a great opportunity with player engagement, but it doesn’t really become that revenue opportunity that you would see if you didn’t have a full casino portfolio,” said Groumoutis.
With over a year and a half since the launch of the new category BCLC has enjoyed a great increase in all key performance indicators. By any measure it is clear the players are enjoying this new offering on PlayNow.
Instants Participation, Wagers and Net Sales Growth (FY2017-FY2019)