As consumer behaviour changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, time is running out for land-based lottery operators who are yet to adapt.

The landscape of the lottery industry is set to undergo a permanent shift as more and more operators look to move online before consumer behaviours are forced to adapt to new circumstances.

Lockdown has spelled disaster for all non-essential retail businesses, leaving land-based operators without a vendor to sell their tickets. This has hit developing nations particularly hard. In Costa Rica, Lottery draws were suspended on 24 March, with estimated losses around the $8.5million to date. For now, the government has announced it will financially support around 2,000 vendors, with up to $342,000 per month available for each entity. However, this scheme will only run until June.

By then, vendors will have been closed for 68 days, and may still have to close for much longer. Many expect the lockdown to last at least six months, which could see land-based lottery operators closed for well over 150 days. But consumer behaviours, if forced to change, will adapt to new habits in 60 to 90 days. While retail vendors are closed, online third party operators remain open for business, and are already beginning to win the loyalty of land-based players that have been forced to move online.

Ade Repcenko, CEO of lottery solutions provider Spinola Gaming, confirmed there is no way for pen and paper lottery to compete under the current circumstances. He believes solely land-based operators should move their brand online as soon as possible, or risk losing customers forever.

“Our industry is undergoing a change that has been long overdue. The transition to online was bound to happen eventually in order to sustain business long-term, but it is now happening by force,” stated Repcenko. “It takes 60 to 90 days to change a habit, and after that there is no going back. This process is going to take longer than 60 to 90 days, so customers’ habits are most certainly going to change, especially when they realise that it’s a better way of doing things regardless of the current pandemic. Online will become the new normal for the majority of lottery players.”

Online businesses have indeed benefitted from the global pandemic so far, both in lottery and across most other industries. Any operator that was online before the widespread lockdowns began will have seen an upturn, with many who lost out now scrambling to put their brand online. As a market leader in lottery solutions, Spinola Gaming has seen this happen first-hand. Repcenko expects the shift to continue as there remains to be no end in sight to the current situation, urging operators who have not yet made the decision to do so before it’s too late.

“Retail and land-based lottery operators need to embrace the shift to online and be a part of this global digital movement in order to continue to thrive in the lottery sector for years to come,” he said. “We can help land-based companies intercept the player’s online journey. Our solutions allow operators to move online in a matter of days to reach existing and new players in the comfort of their homes.”

Repcenko added that Spinola Gaming’s integrated solution addresses both the short-term problem caused by Covid-19, and the long-term problem of combining online with retail once vendors reopen.

“Our holistic solution caters for both retail and online operations from one interface,” he concluded. “It gets operators online quickly in the short-term, and in the long-term, after the global pandemic finally comes to an end, it allows them to easily manage a retail and online lottery solution from one solution.”