Government-run lotteries, which date to the building of the Great Wall of China and improvement projects in ancient Rome, know how to keep up with the times, says a new member of the Lottery Industry Hall of Fame.
“The last few years really changed how we all interact with the world, how we live and work and play,” said Angela Wong, Director of Lottery Solutions for Gaming Laboratories International. “We’ve seen an increase in technology, from communication to how we purchase things. And through it all, lotteries have evolved.”
She pointed to state lottery innovations such as the addition of sports betting, iLottery, in-lane sales, cashless options, and even enhancements in retail locations.
“They’ve done an amazing job of adapting to consumer behavior and habits,” she said. “They have proven to be resilient and have shifted challenges into opportunities within a short period of time.”
Wong noted that traditional lottery ticket sales totaled $98 billion in the United States last fiscal year, generating $28 billion for education, economic development, environmental projects, senior citizen programs, and other public initiatives. For comparison, U.S. commercial gaming revenue totaled $52.99 billion last year, according to the American Gaming Association.
While GLI is well known among casino gaming operators and suppliers, the company says it serves more lottery operators, regulators, and suppliers worldwide than any other lab. The South Dakota Lottery hired GLI in 1989, the year of the company’s founding, to help launch the first organized video lottery system in the United States.
Wong, who joined GLI last year after 10 years as director of the Montana Lottery, was inducted into the Public Gaming Research Institute Lottery Industry Hall of Fame in October.
“The cornerstone of lottery operations is security and integrity,” she said.
Wong said lottery regulators, operators and suppliers recognize that the “explosion” of innovation and technology carries a consideration of risk.
“For lotteries, institutional reputation and integrity are non-negotiable,” she stressed.
“It’s vital for lotteries to ensure that their modernization efforts … be thoroughly vetted and evaluated from planning through execution,” she said. The operation could expose itself to risk in a variety of areas, including user authentication, customer privacy, security of sensitive information, and responsible gaming.
The additional challenge is “doing all this while you’re managing cost-effective operations,” Wong explained.
GLI can help regulators, operators, and suppliers in all areas of lottery operations, including technical issues, regulatory compliance, independent testing and evaluation certification, IT consulting, and consultation on strategic goals. The company’s three decades of work around the globe provide a perspective of lotteries at various stages of development.
“GLI has such a deep bench of experience and expertise in lottery,” Wong said. “No matter where a lottery is in their journey, we can help them. We know lotteries, we know security, and we’re here to help.”
Analysts say the United States accounts for almost a quarter of global lottery sales. Forty-five states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, offer lotteries. Powerball and MegaMillions, the games whose top prizes often exceed $100 million, are available in all those jurisdictions, with the exception of Puerto Rico for MegaMillions.
By one account, the U.S. lottery market is expected to grow by 5.9 percent a year through 2025 due to its wide availability. Online lottery ticket purchases, now available in a handful of states, are in a growth spurt that is expected to continue.
As lotteries consider how to improve their operations, Wong offered a reminder: “Security and integrity are a never-ending initiative.”