Bede Gaming: Advantages of lottery in the early days Canadian market

Canada has been catching a lot of attention in the international gaming space ever since the Ontario market was regulated in April, perhaps more so than its larger neighbour to the south. 

Market conditions in Canada’s largest province are not all smooth sailing, however, as Bede Gaming’s Chief Strategy Officer Alistair Boston-Smith observed in an interview with SBC Media. 

Noting that it is ‘still early days’ in Ontario, the CSO added that ‘if you look at the data, for those who aren’t aware, there are still significant restrictions’, most notably in that operators cannot promote bonuses in advertising.

“Largely, most operators are looking at Ontario mostly as almost like another US state, where as we’ve seen over the last couple of years, the major battleground is to win market share,” he added.

“The way that you win market share in the very short term is to offer the most exciting and large scale bonuses to get people in.”

This, of course, requires an effective customer acquisition and retention strategy. But if firms are spending money on finding players, they must also divert cash into maximizing entertainment value. 

In Boston-Smith’s view, lotteries have an advantage over igaming firms in this area, due to customers having a greater sense of trust towards these products.

However, in highly competitive markets, lotteries may find themselves more ‘stretched’ with regards to trust, he added, before referring to how Bede’s partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has sought to address this. 

“In the lottery space, where of course you’re trying to bring retail customers into digital, it isn’t necessarily a case of converting them, it’s about giving them a consistent experience and a great offering in all places,” he continued.

“One of the things that OLG and Bede have been doing together is quite a lot of work of actually mimicking some of the experiences they get in retail within digital. 

“By that, I mean, one of the benefits from within retail is that there’s no friction. I can just go in, I buy my lottery ticket, I hand over some cash or payment card and I walk out. It’s the same as in a sportsbook, bookmakers etc.”

A UK-based tech provider, Bede is active across four continents – North America, Africa, Europe and South America – operating as an open tech platform for both lottery and gaming firms. 

The company’s ‘small select group’ of partners includes the aforementioned OLG as well as the Rank Group, a historic major Bede client in Europe.

This has given the firm substantial experience of both areas across a wide variety of markets, experience which Boston-Smith has overseen in his capacity of CSO, responsible for areas such as long-term planning and financial strategy.

Reflecting on the key differences between lottery and gaming, the CSO added: “Lotteries are different because, in many cases, their ownership structure is linked to the government, so they have a different group of stakeholders and their role and their focuses are quite different.

“There is a lot of alignment and synergy between the land-based casino space and lotteries. For their core business, a large proportion of customers are coming through retail journeys, they’re buying tickets, gaming, and obviously they are placing sports bets or playing machines in casinos.

“For many, that is still a distance from the digital experience. They may do lots of things digitally, but they don’t necessarily do these things. The lottery space has moved on enormously, like the gaming space has, more so in certain geographies than others.”

A key important factor for lottery or gaming providers, whether B2B or B2C, is of course regulatory frameworks, which are still ‘early days’ in newly established markets such as Ontario.

In the case of lotteries this is more important, in Boston-Smith’s view, due to the inherent links to government, and so companies must tread carefully in order to seize on opportunities in developing jurisdictions.

Catch part two of Alistar Boston-Smith’s interview with SBC Media on Friday

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