European Lotteries (EL) members' total gross gaming revenue (GGR) decreased 11.0 percent in 2020 to €27.2bn, after several years of growth, as the lottery sector dealt with the fallout of COVID-19 restrictions.
Sales for the three main categories of games — draw based, instant and sports — by EL members in the EU amounted to €69.4bn in 2020, a 10.6 percent decrease compared with 2019, according to the group’s recently released 2020 report.
Total sales, including the EL’s non-EU members, amounted to €85.6bn, a year-on-year decrease of 9.1 percent.
“There was a kind of geographical effect,” Vaclav Stepan, executive chair of the EL Data and Research Working Group (DRWG) and international relations coordinator at SAZKA, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
Northern and Central Europe were not as badly affected, as restrictions were less severe and lottery ticket purchasing is seen as “more transactional” compared with Southern Europe, where players would traditionally “stop in a coffee shop and chat while purchasing a lottery product”, Stepan said.
The DRWG is responsible for collecting and sharing data among the EL community, covering sales, online and land-based GGR, money for good causes and employment. Its data is collected online and aggregated by an independent third party, based on which it publishes a yearly report.
The latest report covering 2020 reflects unprecedented mass retail closures and the suspension of sports events during a year that saw some jurisdictions such as Spain temporarily suspending lottery ticket sales.
However, the online sector saw strong growth, with all EL members (only 51 reported the category) generating online GGR of €3.6bn, representing 11.7 percent of total GGR in 2020 and a 25.7 percent year-over-year increase.
This shift online was accompanied by operators focusing on speeding up technical and product innovations or even opening up new product verticals such as e-instants.
These innovations were largely supported by regulators, according to Stepan, through permitting new licences and speeding up pre-planned product launches.
Despite the impacts of restrictions on lotteries, they were still able to generate €16.0bn for good causes in 2020, around a €1bn decrease compared with 2019, according to EL secretary-general Arjan van 't Veer.
“We did not hear of any big national problems or NGOs making complaints”, regarding a reduction in good cause funding in 2020, he said.
Instead, EL members pivoted to non-financial contributions, including its employees and its retail network partners and creating health awareness campaigns.
EL members also provided support to its retail network, as it feared many of its points of sales would be badly affected by forced closures, with instances of members allowing delayed payments for merchants, according to Stepan.
Members of the EL also shared their experience regarding the COVID-19 impact on business, restrictions and how they reacted to the situation on a weekly basis via email.
“The collaboration and knowledge sharing, supported by the fact that EL members have local licences, so they are often not competing, this is the biggest strength of our association,” Stepan said.