Time all operators hit the lottery jackpot


Malta-based lottery provider Helio Gaming has been building up its product portfolio in recent months, 5 Star caught up with CEO Richard Mifsud for a sneak preview and to get a better understanding of the vertical’s potential in 2019.

What is the current state of play with lottery and what are the challenges for the vertical?

Lottery is easily the most popular form of gambling anywhere in the world. It has universal appeal. But it has remained largely untouched for a long time and has in my view stagnated somewhat. In many countries it is still very focused on retail and it has yet to fully embrace the opportunities presented by mobile. As a result, it has an ageing customer base and is not necessarily on the radar of the younger adult population, mainly through lack of innovation. Jackpots can be spectacular and capture the imagination but draws that are irregularly timed and presented in a one-size-fits-all package have until recently seen it dwindle and lose market share to other verticals.

How is the vertical evolving and how are companies like Helio Gaming looking to shake up the market?

There is tremendous growth opportunity. This gives us great motivation to challenge the status quo that state lotteries are constantly trying to protect and shake things up to come up with a best in market product and service to customers. We are bringing in innovation with several different game set-ups, several levels of jackpots, gamification, fresh UX, and much more.

We initially used this to develop our flagship game Lotto Hero, which offers our operator partners the risk-free chance to make one of their players a millionaire every hour, on the hour, 24 hours a day. But were now providing daily, weekly, and even event-based draws, which can be branded by individual operators to engage a large number of customer demographics. Some people have said that this approach is a direct challenge to those established national and state lotteries. But I would argue strongly that the new lottery products which we offer could really complement their existing products and would be the perfect cross-sell to their large existing customer bases.

What can Helio’s offering deliver for a non-lottery operator who is considering adding the vertical to its product portfolio?

In short, acquisition, retention and reactivation. Lottery jackpots attract players who may not be aware of an operator’s sportsbook or casino. Lottery has fantastic player loyalty, with an average age of nine months. Besides promoting very large jackpots, operators can cross-promote their regular offering by providing the likes of free spins as a result of small wins in our custom branded lottery games. They can retain their customers by rewarding them with lottery tickets with chance to win big jackpots. They might win big money or smaller amounts of frees pins, but the point is that they checked in once again. Free tickets to big jackpot lotteries are also proven to appeal to lapsed or dormant players. We’ve seen casino operators have a 20% reactivation with lottery campaigns, with micro amounts of thousands of player wallets are put to use.

Which markets in particular do you think can benefit from this next generation of lottery products?

Lottery knows no boundaries and I see it becoming a far bigger vertical in the next few years. But the places which really benefit from bespoke, modern mobile-first lottery content will be Asia, Latin America, and Africa. We are experiencing very healthy demand in Africa in particular and are already live in Kenya and Nigeria and have keen interest from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.

What lottery gives customers in these countries is a romantic, aspirational feeling that comes with the small stake, big win proposition. The same trend is exhibited in their approach to sports betting, where small stake wagers that stand to deliver big wins on longer odds are increasingly popular. Just look at the build-a-bet software that many operators have installed. Lottery tickets are very affordable, capture the imagination of players, whilst the barrier to enjoyment is extremely low.

You started off with Lotto Hero, which is still Helio Gaming’s flagship product, but how has the portfolio developed over the last few months?

We offer custom-branded lottery draws such as daily, bi-weekly, and monthly draws that can be tailored to suit individual operators. We can also provide betting on international lotteries which has proven increasingly popular. These include the U.S. Powerball, EuroMillions, MegaMillions EuroJackpot, and German 6/49 draws. But they will total at least 40 well-known international brands in the coming months. Excitingly, we are also launching live lotteries from our Malta-based offices, which I anticipate will have the same popular appeal as live dealer in casino.

So many casino and sportsbook operators could easily add lottery to their product portfolio and I’m very proud that we were among the first in the industry to be able to provide this for them. Product cross-sell is fundamental to any operator looking to monetize its gaming verticals as much as possible.

Lottery is so easy to run and has such universal appeal to existing and new players alike that it is a no brainer to add to the product suite.