INTRALOT Inc. Scales New Heights

* Interview of Tom Little, President and CEO of Intralot USA, at LaFleur’s magazine.

Tom Little, President & CEO, INTRALOT Inc., has the heart of a mountain climber. Over his nearly four-decade long career, he has been at the foundational stages of two of the great lottery companies, Scientific Games and INTRALOT. His ascension to the c-suite of two of the best known brands in the gaming world gives him a unique prospective on both where the lottery has been and where it’s headed.

“The retail terminal as we know it today will exist for another decade,” Little predicted. “Over that time, our industry will migrate to mobile devices because they are being forced to go digital by today’s consumers.” Little noted that the lottery ticket is still a point-of-purchase type of product, but added that “The industry is at the edge of a big change and when it happens, it will happen quickly. Mobile, the Internet and all the new technology represents a big game changer.”

Little sees social media as a vital link to reaching a younger and more interactive audience. Social is the place the lotteries have to go to in order to get the younger players involved in the lottery product. Most young smartphone owners say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them. It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. There are more users accessing Facebook 24/7 from their mobile devices than anybody had originally though. We have to be where they are in their daily lives.”

To position the industry for success in the future, INTRALOT is investing significantly in research and development today. “INTRALOT has always put a lot of money into R&D. We are in the forefront of offering technological solutions to the lottery industry, including mobile and interactive terminal games such as our TAPP IT!™ games. These quick play style games offer an interactive solution in social environments that fit within the definition of a lottery game. INTRALOT has always worked very hard to provide such solutions.”

Little noted that the adoption of new technologies varies widely from region to region around the world. “Other parts of the world have adopted Internet and mobile solutions more rapidly,” claimed Little. “Europe moved to embrace interactive decades ago. In the U.S., it is seen as almost a dirty word.” Little pointed out that the Internet is no more than another form of distribution and communication. “The Minnesota Lottery sells all 6 of its online games on the Internet. The Illinois and Georgia Lotteries have ventured onto the Internet allowing players to buy some of their products online. In those jurisdictions, sales have been very low but will eventually grow. The Delaware Lottery now offers Internet Games including Poker, Blackjack, Video Lottery and Roulette on the websites of their 3 Casinos. INTRALOT stands ready and able to take our Lottery partners into the iGaming space, with a fully developed robust solution, whenever they are able to move.

In the meantime, INTRALOT continues to add innovations designed to enhance the players’ experience. The company recently debuted DreamTouch™, a next generation Intelligent Gaming Station. “DreamTouch™ is an upgrade to our current vending machine, the Winstation. It is more eye-catching and interactive,” explained Little. “DreamTouch™ is in the advanced development stage and consumer research showed it to be extremely attractive to players and non-players alike.

Little was encouraged by the industry’s reception of DreamTouch™.  “There is a lot of excitement around this product. At the NASPL conference last fall, several lottery directors walked up and said, ‘I’ll take 500’. That was cool, however it will be nine to twelve months before we are completely ready to fulfill their wishes.”

The creative energy that drives innovation at INTRALOT comes from its core entrepreneurial pedigree. “The company embodies a certain entrepreneurial spark. That is the way INTRALOT was formed back in 1992. INTRALOT is organized geographically. There is the North American hub; there’s the Asian hub; there’s the European hub, and so on. Each hub operates autonomously within its geographic area. That gives us advantages. Each of those business units has homegrown marketing, financial and other functional areas. You now see some of the other gaming companies moving to reorganize around our model.”

Little sees structural changes in the way some North American lotteries are operated as playing to INTRALOT’s strengths. “Public/private partnerships have always been a component of INTRALOT’s strategy. That is how INTRALOT got its start, operating lotteries. Most of INTRALOT’s business around the world comes from operating lotteries under a private management contract.”

Little noted that this trend is not without its dangers.  “Lotteries have a tremendous amount of goodwill because their proceeds are earmarked for good causes and because they have also been on the forefront of responsible gaming initiatives. Now, if Lottery operations are turned over to private enterprise, the inherent nature of that enterprise comes to the forefront. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but If it is going to be done, it has to be done while maintaining those two elements.”

After nearly four decades in the lottery industry, Little still looks forward to scaling new peaks. “I would say the next big mountain I want to climb is doubling the market share of  INTRALOT USA.” With a little rope and a well-established hold on the market, the sky is the limit.

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