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Allwyn UK has put in place extensive plans for the National Lottery and its retailers for the next year as it settles into the first three months of the licence.

Speaking at the National Convenience Show, director of channel operations Alex Green provided an update on Allwyn UK’s management of the National Lottery licence so far, having taken over its operation on 1 February.

“There was lots of stuff going on behind the scenes, ready for 1 February,” he explained. “The intention was that retailers and players actually wouldn’t notice much change at all.

Now that we’re in place, we’re starting to drip feed information out. We’ve got a couple of new marketing campaigns that have gone live over recent months and we’ve started to trial some of our new permanent point of sale that retailers can be expect to see down the line.”

Although the first three months have gone well, Green said the process hasn’t been without challenges, including the relocation of its scratch card and consumables distribution centre from Northampton to Warrington which affected some availability, and the methods of paying out prizes which led to Allwyn increasing the size of its winners services team.

He said the next 12 months will be busy for the National Lottery. “The real big thing for our retailers is going to be the transformation of the retail infrastructure.

We’ve got to change the network, as that underpins all of our retailer operations. We’ve got a new partnership with Vodafone, which we’ve got to get that up and running.

We’ve got to do some software downloads onto all of our existing Big Blue box terminals.

“We’ve also got to change all the terminals in around 40,000 retailers. And we’ve also got to change all of our permanent point of sale as well as our scratch card dispensers.

We’ve got some trials running at the moment and we’ll slowly start to ramp those up as we go throughout the year.”

He also provided more detail on plans to introduce a limit on the number of scratch cards that can be purchased in one transaction.

“From the 1 October as a player, you won’t be able to buy any more than 10 scratch cards in one transaction. We’ve done that because we want to grow National Lottery sales and returns to good causes but in a responsible way and putting a limit on the number of scratch cards that people can buy in one transaction is designed to minimise the risk of excessive play.

“We’re starting to talk to our retailers now about that and when we get closer to 1 October, we’ll start to put up some player-facing messages to help retailers communicate the change to players.” 

Retailer support

Green also reiterated Allwyn’s support for stores in face of online.

“The retail channel is central to Allwyn, there is an ambition to effectively double returns to Good Causes by the end of the 10th year of the licence. And as part of that strategy, we want to grow retail and we’re going do that by investing in the channel.

“Our work with Madic is a great example of a of a new technology investment in that area. We’re also investing in our field sales team. At the moment we have around 100 field sales executives out and about walking through the doors of our National Lottery retailers. We’re just at the end of a process to recruit another 55 sales executives. There are also lots of new marketing campaigns designed to make sure that the National Lottery stays at the forefront of people’s minds as well.”

Technology roll-out

“But the really big thing will be the transformation of retail infrastructure. When the play stations start to change as well as the scratch card dispensers, the terminals, that’s the big investment in retail that will ultimately enable future growth in that channel.”

He added that these changes were expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

Green also updated retailers about ideas that have been successful in other markets Allwyn operates in that could be applied to the UK.

“One really good example is this scratch cards gifting campaign. In the Czech Republic, they’ve really changed consumer behaviour, and for a number of years they’ve been sowing the message around giving a scratch card as a gift to someone else which has led to a really big uptake.”

Allwyn recently announced a new campaign focused on gifting for the UK National Lottery.

“As a player, it’s a nice little fun gift to buy for somebody else as a recipient. Even if you don’t win, hopefully it’s a little bit of fun to play a scratch card, and if you do win even better.

The winner is going to go back into retail and maybe reinvest those winnings in another scratch card or something else in store. It’s proven to be a nice way to grow participation because effectively you’re kind of driving trial by giving.”