Recently, the Romanian Lottery has started an extensive program to modernize the idea of the lottery game by launching projects that involve technology and digital among the pressing priorities of this institution. Of course we want to be the promoters of these projects and that is why we present you an interview with Mr. Sebastian-Iacob Moga, General Manager of the „Romanian Lottery” S.A. National Company, from which you will learn a lot of news about the most important plans of one of the most essential companies of the Romanian State.
What were the successes and challenges faced this year?
During the 114 years of activity, the challenges faced by the Romanian society were also the challenges of the Romanian Lottery, whether we are talking about wars, natural disasters, political regimes or health crises.
The Romanian Lottery, one of the state institutions with an important tradition, has always adapted and, most importantly, respected its values and the purpose for which it was established in 1906, making a significant and constant contribution to projects of national public interest.
The difficult times we live in have affected many areas of activity around the world, including the gambling sector. Obviously, even for the Romanian Lottery, the biggest challenges of the current year came against this background.
Maintaining the company’s players and employees’ health and safety, keeping all the employees, in the context of revenue shortfall, especially during the three months when the activity of the Romanian Lottery was suspended, as well as ensuring the business continuity were important challenges that we faced.
We have assumed the digitalization of the Romanian Lottery as a fundamental strategic objective. Digitization nowadays is a necessity and it is natural for the Romanian Lottery to develop in this direction.
The need to adapt the activity of the Romanian Lottery to the new conditions determined us to speed up the implementation of some projects in the current management strategy of the company even before the appearance of the pandemic, respectively the development of alternative channels for the sale of lottery products, to meet all the expectations of players, including those who prefer to use the Internet as the main means for the easy purchase of goods and services.
The possibility to participate in traditional lottery games using SelfPay Payment Stations is a great success that the Romanian Lottery players enjoy for almost a month.
The most important achievement of the Romanian Lottery is the development of the computer platform for the sale of traditional online lottery games, which will be available soon. This project is carried out in collaboration with the Authority for the Digitalization of Romania.
You recently started a new project with SelfPay that allows you to join the traditional lottery games, such as Loto 6/49, Joker, Loto 5/40, Noroc, Noroc Plus and Super Noroc, through more than 5,200 SelfPay Payment Stations located throughout the country. How did you come up with the idea for this project and how did all the stages of implementation go?
Technological innovations in recent years have led to a constant change in the gambling industry. Standalone gaming terminals are a practical alternative for players that many of Europe’s lotteries have successfully implemented.
SelfPay has the largest network of self-service payment stations in Romania, with over 5,200 terminals that can be found in major retail networks, shopping centers, markets, gas stations and convenience stores. The Romanian lottery considers the partnership with SelfPay an opportunity to develop the sales network that reached over 7,100 locations where players can buy tickets for the lottery games.
The new way of participating in the game was appreciated by players, since its launch in early November and was a breath of fresh air given that most of the lottery agencies were closed as a result of measures taken by the authorities in localities with a large number of infections. The rapid success of the new game is also due to the fact that many players were familiar with the use of SelfPay Payment Stations for the payment of utilities, various taxes and duties and other services offered by the most popular platform of this type.
With this partnership between the Romanian Lottery and SelfPay, lottery games come closer to people and a new facility is made available to players with the help of technology. What estimates do you have about increasing the company’s revenue and growing the player base by implementing this collaboration?
The positive feedback from the players who, as we expected, are receptive to the modern means offered by technology, is a clear proof that the decision to collaborate with SelfPay was very appropriate.
In addition to the traditional one, the introduction of the new way of participating in lotto games, through the lotto agencies, which players will certainly not give up, will attract a new segment of customers, younger and, of course, familiar with the technology.
Considering the extended SelfPay network and especially the fact that the payment stations are present in localities where the Romanian Lottery does not have a sufficient number of agencies, as well as their positioning in locations that can attract new participants in the game, we estimate that the company’s revenues will increase due to this partnership by at least 20%.
The Romanian Lottery and the Authority for the Digitalization of Romania have signed the contract for the creation and development of the computer platform for selling online lottery games. What stage is this very important project at now? When do you think everything will be ready and players will be able to play their favorite lottery games from home or anywhere?
Signing the contract with the Authority for the Digitalization of Romania is the most important step that has been taken to achieve this goal. We are currently working with specialists from the Authority for the Digitalization of Romania to launch a computer platform that will allow players to participate in lotto games using their phones, tablets or computer. The project involves four stages at the end of which the platform will provide complex and complete functionality for players, as well as elements related to responsible gambling, such as combating gambling addiction by blocking the account, setting game limits, etc.
What will the completion of this project mean for the Romanian Lottery? Are there any projections of revenue that online will bring to Lottery accounts? How many people do you think will access the Lottery website to play online? What would be the budgetary revenues that the online lottery games could bring to the state?
The marketing of traditional lottery products in the online environment will make lottery games more accessible and will attract a new segment of customers, younger and more influential, which, in the end, represents a future base of loyal players. The digitization of lotto games is the most important project of the Romanian Lottery in the modernization process of the institution, a response to the players’ expectations as well as the most viable strategy to carry on the tradition of a symbol institution of the Romanian society.
The development of its own IT platform on the website www.loto.ro is another success that comes approximately two years since the Romanian Lottery owns and successfully operates its own lottery system – SILOR (Romanian Lottery System) which was developed and implemented “in-house” by the company, using its own resources.
The financial projections regarding the additional income that the introduction of online lotto games will bring to the Romanian Lottery are based on the experience of lotteries in Europe that have already implemented this way of participating in the game. Even if in their case the growth percentage varies from 5% to 40%, we do not risk to make too optimistic estimates in these uncertain times, in this atypical, unpredictable year. The crisis we are going through is a health, social crisis that affects the entire economy.
The uncertainty generated by the pandemic, respectively the preservation of the restrictions for the traditional lotto agencies could lead to superior economic results for the online segment, compared to the initial financial projections.
Most of the company’s profit goes to the state budget, as dividends. Therefore, the contribution of the Romanian Lottery to the creation of the necessary funds to finance the objectives of national public interest is closely related to the company’s revenue dynamics.
Certainly 2020 was a challenging year, but the following year may be an exceptional year for the Romanian Lottery if all the projects you started this year will materialize next year. What are the future projects of the Romanian Lottery in the short and medium term?
The year 2021 will be a year of confirmations for all projects that have been started and most of them completed this year, so that we can quantify the results and adapt the next steps in the best direction we set for the development and modernization of the company.
The expansion of the sales network remains an important goal in the coming year, and partnerships have a significant role in this regard. We aim to continue and develop the collaborations we have with large retail networks (Lagardère Travel Retail, Carrefour Romania, OMV Petrom, TabacXpress, Artima, Columbus and Profi) and to become attractive to other large retailers.
The rebranding of lottery agencies, which also means improving the conditions to ensure players’ comfort, is a necessity and another priority in the company’s medium-term strategy.
The projects in the medium and long term strategy aimed at diversifying the product portfolio with a new lotto game, reintroducing sports betting and joining the Romanian Lottery to a cross-border game are other measures that will be taken for business development.
All the objectives we have are closely related to the Romanians’ trust in the responsible games organized by the Romanian Lottery. I consider that the most important thing is that we manage to combine tradition with technology and build the future alongside our players.
Adrian Badea, CEO of SelfPay:
“The partnership with Romanian Lottery NC is in line with the development of digitalization processes of state institutions, a field where SelfPay has been actively and positively contributing for over 10 years”
Starting in the fall of 2020, participation in the traditional lottery games Loto 6/49, Joker, Loto 5/40, Noroc, Noroc Plus și Super Noroc is also possible through more than 5,200 SelfPay Payment Stations located throughout the country. A wonderful thing that provides security through technology to all lovers of lottery games in our country. Here are more details about this initiative materialized recently, offered by Mr. Adrian Badea, CEO of SelfPay.
What does this collaboration with Romanian Lottery NC represent for SelfPay?
Over the past 10 years, SelfPay has developed the self-service market and contributed to the positive transformation of key areas such as retail, the banking sector, public utilities and tax payment. The partnership with Romanian Lottery NC is in line with this initiative and represents an important step in approaching the digitization processes of state institutions. Now, participation in the traditional lottery games Loto 6/49, Joker, Loto 5/40, Noroc, Noroc Plus și Super Noroc is also possible through more than 5,200 SelfPay Payment Stations located throughout the country. Our network is a simple and handy payment method that allows users to stay safe, limiting interaction with others in the process of buying game tickets. Thus, we are also with the customers of Romanian Lottery NC who just have to look for the nearest SelfPay Payment Station and buy the Loto tickets, simple, safe and fast.
Do you intend to carry out other similar collaborations with companies in the gambling industry? What future projects do you have in this field?
The times we live in have brought a major change in the approach to the digitization processes of organizations, including operators in the gambling industry. SelfPay is support its partners, providing the necessary infrastructure and technology for payment digitization. The launch of similar collaborations with companies in the gambling industry is closely linked to the evolution of this field, an evolution that we follow closely and obviously. If opportunities arise, we will explore them.