While Michigan was not the first state to adopt an online lottery, it has certainly enjoyed the most rapid trajectory of success.
Since its launch in 2014, the MI iLotto has signed up more than 800,000 accounts, which would be quite the impressive feat for a state with a resident population of 30 million, let alone just under 10 million. Instant win revenue alone has climbed from $18.5 million in 2015 to a staggering $77.9 million last year, and looks to soon cross into nine-digit terrain.
With additional states such as Pennsylvania now following suit with their own internet lottery sites – albeit in that case with a very limited library of games – they will undoubtedly be looking to emulate proven models. The quick adoption of players and high rate of sales has made the Michigan iLotto a particularly attractive candidate.
But what exactly makes the Michigan online lottery tick?
MIBets.com has been fortunate enough to recently enjoy a brief conversation with Jaime Guerra, Affiliate Program Manager for the Michigan Lottery, who has kindly answered some key questions on the popularity of the online lottery and what has helped it work.
Insight into the Michigan Lottery
The secrets to success
MIBets: Michigan has had the most success of any online lottery operator. What do you feel are the keys behind this success?
Jaime Guerra: Our focus from Day One has to been to provide players an excellent online experience. We’ve done that by focusing on offering them engaging and entertaining games and a system that’s easy for them to use. Since the online games launched in 2014, we’ve used a data driven approach to adjust and refine our games and our system and add new games to attract new players and encourage return visits and repeat play from existing players.
MIBets: How can states with online lottery do a better job of converting retail outlet players?
Jaime Guerra: The Michigan Lottery is focused on expanding its reach with new channels rather than converting retail players. We find our success has come from focusing on improving a customer’s journey and providing convenience and choices to a wide range of customers. Keeping our focus on the user journey rather than a specific channel seems to be working as we’ve seen record sales both at retail and online since the launch of the iLottery program.
Certainly, the MI iLotto has embraced choice, as it currently offers a greater swatch of games than any other iLotto operator in the U.S. At present, 63 instant win, draw, and keno games can be played online — a total that seems to rise by the week.
The usefulness of promotions
MIBets: The Michigan Lottery runs various online game promotions. Do any promotional vehicles stand out as particularly appealing to players?
Jaime Guerra: The Michigan Lottery has a strong player retention plan and various ongoing promotions to keep players engaged. Email and SMS communications are used broadly as well as more personalized and targeted campaigns. Additionally, we’ve found that our Welcome Offer promotion is very effective at acquiring new players. We offer up to a $100 bonus credit for a player’s first purchase.
By contrast, Pennsylvania only offers new players a $5 no-deposit bonus, which simply doesn’t hold the same appeal.
However, Pennsylvania did do $21.6 million in handle its first month, and roughly $2.9 million in revenue. Those may not be as impressive as Michigan’s numbers, but shows the potentiality of the nascent market; potential that may be further realized should the PA iLotto implement an attractive deposit bonus for new players.
The most appealing games
MIBets: In terms of game selection, what’s the main draw to the online lottery site? Is it draw games like Powerball, instant wins, or Keno?
Jaime Guerra: Our online instant win and Keno games is where we have the highest player loyalty and value. These product offerings provide a new experience and added level of excitement for our online lottery players. The traditional draw-based games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions, help us acquire a large number of new players when they have big jackpots and players want the convenience of playing online with big multi-million jackpots up for grabs.
MIBets: Is there a particular game or games that does really well, and why do you think that is?
Jaime Guerra: Instant Keno has been popular since Day One, and players really love the multi-ticket bonus round games such as Hit or Queen of Diamonds. These games offer exciting play features, in particular, a chance to enter a bonus round for a guaranteed prize every time you play the bonus round.
Quick play, dazzling animations, multiple betting options, and bonus features are all staples of the MI iLotto’s most popular instant win games. It appears that if other states hope to also find success in the iLottery game, they’ll likely have to embrace these slot-style games as well.