Paul’s Blog “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” Abraham Lincoln

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Paul’s Blog

“I don’t like that man.  I must get to know him better.” Abraham Lincoln

 I need to remind myself of this admonishment from President Lincoln to put myself in the other person’s shoes, to empathize and not be so convinced of my own rightness.  Am I too uncompromising in my criticism of Lottoland and NACS and legislators who seem to me to vote against the interests of their own constituents?  Perhaps.  But then I see that President Lincoln also said “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm.”  He also said “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”   With that, I feel encouraged to work hard to think through all the various story angles, but then stand firm in defense of government Lottery.  And to bring attention to political/regulatory trends and changing market-place dynamics that may not pose a short-term threat to Lottery’s financial results, but do represent a threat to the long-term growth and prosperity of government Lottery.   

"I won't submit a sports gambling bill the tribal casinos are opposed to.  Nonnegotiable."  So states Minnesota State Rep. Pat Garofalo.  How in the world do legislators get away with openly stating that they refuse to represent the interests of their constituents, that they are committed (non-negotiable!) to defying the will of the people who voted for them?  Instead, they proclaim fealty to people who did not vote for them and will never vote for them.  This fealty obligates the legislator to re-channel economic benefit away from the constituents who voted for them and into the pockets of private shareholders.   What gives?  What can we do as an industry to increase appreciation for the fact that the Lottery is owned by the people, operated for the benefit of society and good causes and (unlike casinos and online i-gambling operators, and tribal gaming) is dedicated to serve the interests of the people with a focus on protecting the consumer that over-rides the focus on generating profit?   

There is a headline that trumpets “Online Gambling Industry Obliterates Monthly Revenue Record”.   Online revenues in New Jersey increased 16.3% (February YoY).  The more interesting factoid from this news item, though, is that revenues in land-based casinos increased by more than that!  In fact, a lot more than that (23.7%).  Lottery experiences the same thing:  Increase in online sales of Lottery tickets typically go hand-in-hand with increases in land-based retail sales.   Sheldon Adelson (on behalf of his casinos) and NACS (on behalf of Convenience Stores) work tirelessly and spend millions propagating the fake news that selling online cannibalizes land-based sales or otherwise represent hurt retail stores.  The facts have been abundantly clear for years now.  It’s time to stop excusing Adelson and NACS and legislators who traffic in these falsehoods for being misguided or mistaken.  They gotta know the facts by now, which means they are deliberately misleading the public.  It is particularly disheartening that the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is performing such a dis-service to the consumer, to the Lottery, and most importantly to its own members by continuing to spread the lie that online sales hurt land-based stores. 

The reality, as pointed out in “Two-thirds of millennials shop in store every week”, is that people like to shop in stores and we can expect them to continue to do what they like to do.  In fact, it appears that millennials enjoy shopping even more than previous generations.  “A quarter of millennials (more than the 20% of Baby Boomers and 19% of Gen Xers) like to shop with family and friends, according to the report.”  We don’t want to over-simplify the challenge of marketing to millennials.  Connecting with and influencing this generation requires new tools and methods.  "Over-marketing is a huge turn-off to most consumers.  Shoppers want from physical stores what they get from Amazon — a frictionless buying experience.”   The reality also is that when consumers are given multiple options, they become more engaged and loyal and end up buying more.  Hence, the perhaps paradoxical result that the online connection drives an increase in overall engagement which ends up driving the increase in land-based retail sales.