SBC Digital Summit: The Lottery Day and some thoughts on Sports

The third day of the innovative SBC Digital Summit featured some high-profile figures from major European lotteries and US state lotteries who shared their experiences of adapting to the new market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of the lottery industry.

Ludovico Calvi, President of the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS), emphasized the five points of priority for the GLMS during the crisis: Employee’s wellbeing, effective communication, business continuity, effective cost management, and fiscal and financial assistance, in that order. He also predicted that companies emphasizing safety for both customer and employee will do better than those who don’t, and those which were already financially on solid footing have a better chance of surving.

later in the day the panel “Lottery in society – Post-Corona Positioning”, took a look at several more lottery operators around the continent, although the discussion was mainly around sports. Jens Nielsen, Sportsbook Director for Danske Spil, said that iGaming industry had to shift to alternative sports offerings, noting it’s been a strong period for esports. In the Balkans, according to Marko Stokuca of Hrvatska Lutrija, and Thanos Rigas, of OPAP, providers didn’t see much esports action but on the other side table tennis has come out of this as a clear favorite, with virtual sports grabbing a healthy share of the market!

A lot of interesting things were said at the “Implications for Sporting Integrity” panel. With so little live sports in the world to bet on, everything that is left became hugely popular. Who would have thought in February that Table Tennis and Belarussian football would be carrying sports books right now? Andrew Ashenden, Chief Commercial Officer for Stats Perform, noted immediately how easy it could be to fix those matches because these leagues and matches feature much lower paid athletes, “there’s a great proportion of at risk matches at the moment.” Also, Ashenden offered that there is a high level of focus on getting robust standards of data right now, and that will pay dividends down the road.

A question from the audience wondered how long it would take to investigate match fixing, if it was suspected. While data points can help an operator suspend a line at any time, to actually prove match fixing, you need an investigation at the ground level. And as Rupert Bolingbroke, Head of Trading for the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), noted, it’s a difficult time to ask the government to investigate integrity issues, when government authorities are rightfully focused on COVID-19. But for operators looking to protect themselve, with so few matches happening, they should be able to pick out the hinky lines that aren’t acting right.

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