Changes have been made to the day-to-day operations of industry organisations as the world finds itself in the midst of dealing with exceptional and unforeseen circumstances as a consequence of the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis. With this being said, the question remaining as to how business plans get back on track in a post-COVID landscape. 

Moderated by Vixio’s head of global research Andrew Gellatly, a panel titled ‘Lottery in Society – Post-Corona positioning’ saw three lottery industry executives join day three of SBC’s Digital Summit to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the complications surrounding the impending return to normal operations. 

Providing a somewhat positive view on the virus and the changes it has brought, Marko Stokuca, deputy director of the gaming and game development division at Hrvastska Lutrija, commented: “We in Croatia could say that corona gave us some answers especially regarding the potential of sports and games. 

“Online casino is the main online game in Croatia so we’ve focused on that and tried to maximise online channels and awareness. With lottery games we had a promotion for new registered players who got a welcome bonus for Euro Jackpot resulting in us registering seven times more new players than before. 

“We also decided to push esports as much as possible but we found out that the potential of esports in our market is not good so we can conclude that at the moment in the Croatian market esports is not the substitute for the real thing.” 

Danske Spil’s sportsbook director Jens Nielsen offered a contrasting view of the genre, providing the panel with a Danish update that centred on significantly expanded esports usership. 

“Before COVID-19 esports was already a popular and growing sport in our sportsbook,” he said.  “Every year since we launched in 2014 it has at least doubled in turnover and during the last few weeks it has grown tremendously. Esports has become more and more popular and since COVID it has been stronger and become more popular. 

“Proportionally esports constitutes for much more activity than normal and measuring it we can see its growth in the last few months. We are of course running less sales but we have seen more people are trying it out.”

Nielsen was also able to share his differing experiences, when compared to his fellow panelists, regarding Danske Spil’s operations during COVID due to a majority of shops remaining open. He continued: “Contrary to other countries most of our shops are open because they are located within essential services such as supermarkets. With this being said activity is quite low because normal sports are missing. 

“Of course our shops follow normal rules and recommendations that we see in society now, we have touch screens and we have done everything we can to sanitise and ensure materials are close to the screen for customer use. Clients are now also able to place their bet using a mobile phone as to not use touch screens and we’ve seen a growth in this niche. 

“Society has been shut down and we’re in a phase of slowly reopening which I’m sure is much more complicated. Relating to sports betting most of our shops have been open, however the whole foundation of our business is at a very low level. We look forward to reopening fully, we’ll see when that happens but I’m sure we’ll be ready.” 

Providing a similar positive outlook regarding life post-COVID, Thanos Rigas, trading director at OPAP, spoke hopefully regarding the future and shared some of his industry expectations following the eradication of the virus: “This is a new reality. It is a new world out there because of COVID but we have taken the necessary measures to plan and make sure that customers feel welcome again in our shops. 

“Social distancing is fact, it is there. There are specific amounts of people allowed per square metre for example and we are adjusting to that. It is something new but I don’t think it will change our OPAP shops. I think it will continue to be something very social but what is going to be the new reality remains to be seen. We have planned well but real life will show us the way.

“We’re still going to be offering table-tennis, it’s not something new. In 2004/2005 it was the highest turnover sport per minute. We know this and will keep offering it but we’re going to see a lot more coming from all providers. 

“I expect habits to change. I expect more digital and more contactless transactions. There will be a new society but when it comes down to sports, social games like poker, I think we will see growth. 

“We are in front of an unprecedented situation, but we’re in this together and i’m sure that we can forge a better future in the times to come. I’m fairly confident that despite the hard times we will face, the future will be brighter.”

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020 and features seven conference tracks, a virtual exhibition and virtual networking lounges, attracting an estimated 10,000 delegates logging in from around the world.

There is still time to register for the event, with company discounts available: