In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice opened the door to internet wagering, issuing an opinion that lottery wagering was outside the prohibitions of the UIEGA Wire Act. As a result, each U.S. state gained the ability to review its own regulatory statutes and determine whether or not it would offer lottery products through the internet.
Currently, each state has different legislation governing the channels in which lotteries can operate and what types of products they can offer. As some states pioneer legislation to help modernize the play experience and introduce new payment methods, each must also look at whether there is opportunity to leverage digital channels.
One important consideration is related to player behavior when jackpots roll for a number of weeks and reach very high levels. Everyone is familiar with multi-state jackpot runs and the frenzy that ensues when jackpots become newsworthy. But what happens to the sales of other lottery products before, during, and after the jackpot run, and what is the impact on digital lottery sales? How can operators of online lotteries use this information to create marketing campaigns and improve results throughout the year?
IGT examined an 11-week Powerball jackpot run, plus the four weeks following the jackpot hit, and analyzed the performance of digital lottery KPIs for a group of lotteries with digital programs. First, we looked at the performance of the jackpot itself. At $150M, prospective players begin to notice the jackpot size, and sales start to rise. As the jackpot approaches $300M, the media picks up on the story and sales start to escalate rapidly. After the big hit, sales remain lifted. But what happens to digital lottery performance during the same period?
Our study found no impact on digital sales during the first four weeks of the roll cycle. Existing customers continue their regular behavior, playing across their repertoire of games as they normally would. When the jackpot reaches $150M, as stated earlier, people begin to notice, and online sales start rising along with physical retail sales. Existing online players are buying additional lines, and new players are attracted to the lottery’s website to sign up and purchase online.
At the $300M jackpot level, new player sign-ups are running at 600 percent above their usual level as media outlets report on the story and digital sales escalate rapidly. While they are online to buy their Powerball tickets, these new players are also seeing other online games to try and buy. A proportion of this influx of new players, brought in by the jackpot effect, continue to play regularly online, resulting in a new sales level that our research found to be 10 percent higher than before the jackpot run. In effect, the jackpot roll cycle resets the sales index at level higher, creating a larger player base for the lottery to engage going forward.
Regardless of where your lottery is on the path to digital sales, these results highlight the fact that consumers experience your offering holistically, with each aspect of the player journey being impacted by the other. This knowledge can help you deliver more value through traditional channels as well. If the Powerball roll cycle is driving new player connections, creating messages on your website to encourage players to check slips with your lottery’s mobile convenience app, or learn about the newest instant tickets, it can help you reach and engage new casual players and make your lottery more relevant to them.