South Dakota Lottery looks to revive scratch ticket sales

in Lottery

PIERRE – The South Dakota Lottery has a role to play in the 2020 improvement program that is under way in state government’s Department of Revenue.

Revenue Secretary Andy Gerlach wants the lottery to increase sales of scratch-off instant tickets by 5 percent each year.

Norm Lingle, the lottery’s executive director, explained the 10-point plan Thursday to the Lottery Commission. 

“Some of these are already under way. Some are yet to be started. We’ll be fully engaged in the next couple months,” he said.

The effort to revive sales comes at a key time. They slipped by 0.7 percent in the 2017 fiscal year that ended June 30.

One of the new ideas is rolling out new instant games on the first Friday of each month. The Fresh Fridays promotion starts in September.

Another is development of a South Dakota Lottery app for mobile phones.

“We’re really excited about that particular item,” Lingle said.

He said 80 percent of the lottery’s staff members are involved in some way with the overall project. That means the staff is, as he put it, stretching a little bit.

 “I think this is a challenge that is very, very worthwhile,” Lingle said.

The enthusiasm pumped up Jim Putnam of Armour, the commission’s chairman.

“That’s quite a narrative,” Putnam said. “This is something new.”

His next question to Lingle was whether the 5 percent target fit within the advertising contract with the Lawrence and Schiller marketing firm of Sioux Falls.

“We’ve told them the contract is what the contract is,” Lingle replied.

“I was hoping that would be the case,” Putnam responded. He added: “These are good ideas. We can make that ‘five percent-five percent’ work over the years.”

Lingle agreed. “The spirit is there. The challenge is there,” he said.

Other pieces in the plan include:

Putting the larger warehouse for tickets to good use in Sioux Falls with more new games waiting to go and a rolling 12-month launch schedule;

Testing new instant ticket options using focus groups, such as those planned for Watertown, Rapid City and Sioux Falls next week;

Working with ticket manufacturers on appearance, trends, prize structures and keeping retailers informed;

Piggybacking with retailers on their sales promotions;

Visiting retailers to see how products are positioned and staged and offering advice for possible improvements;

Hosting a lottery conference to bring together retailers and venders;

Continuing weekly check-ins with the marketing firm, adding quarterly reviews and fleshing out a rolling 24-month marketing plan; and

Searching out higher-traffic retailers in underserved areas of South Dakota.