Will Michigan Experiment With Retail-to-Online Crossover Lottery Products?

Michigan Lottery instant games represent half of the lottery’s $5 billion annual revenue. Plus, iLottery Instants are the top online lottery games, generating $242 million.

That represents an exciting opportunity for innovative crossover products. In France, a new cross-channel game, iDecide, gives players the chance to take winnings from retail scratch tickets, and risk them playing online games in the hopes of winning a larger prize. Is something like that a possibility for the Wolverine State?

Creating cross-channel “integrations” is one of the Michigan Lottery’s goals, according to the agency’s most recent annual report. The report also contained the $2.5 billion instant game ticket and iLottery Instants figures, as well as $5 billion in total revenue.

Further, the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for Fiscal Years Ended Sept. 30, 2021, and 2020 says so under the subhead Long-Term Financial Planning.

The Michigan Lottery annual report states:

Retail and online integrations will continue as part of a holistic player engagement strategy.

Along those lines, the Michigan Lottery recently launched a suite of Pac-Man-themed products. These consist of an instant ticket, a pull-tab ticket, and an online instant game. However, despite the shared theme, none of these offer a genuine cross-channel experience.

So, is the Michigan Lottery keeping an eye on what the French are up to?

Jake Harris, a player relations manager for Michigan Lottery, told MichiganSharp‘s today:

The iDecide game concept you shared isn’t something that we are currently exploring in Michigan. We are currently working on a project that will allow players to redeem winning retail tickets online depending on the value of the ticket.

Michigan Lottery Instant Games and the French Offering

The new French product, iDecide, comes from Scientific Games, formerly SG Lottery. (It retained the name of its former owner after being acquired by Brookfield Business Partners earlier this year. The former owner now goes by Light and Wonder and focuses on casino gaming.)

SG Lottery was, at one time, the Michigan Lottery’s primary supplier. Though the lottery still works with Scientific Games as a vendor, it now uses International Game Technologies (IGT) to power its retail product platform. That makes it unlikely that iDecide would come to Michigan directly. However, if it proves to be a success in France, it could inspire competitors to test out similar products elsewhere.

Scientific Games exhibited its newest product last week at the World Lottery Summit in Vancouver. In an Oct 12 press release, the company wrote:

Scientific Games and Groupe FDJ, the operator of France’s national lottery La Franϛaise des Jeux, unveiled iDecide, a revolutionary lottery game enhancement that gives instant scratch card players the option to continue their play experience with a digital game and potentially expand their winnings. …

Here’s how it works: Each instant scratch card game featuring iDecide has a QR code and a callout promoting the opportunity to continue playing. If a player wins on the physical card, they can decide to cash their winning ticket at retail or wager a portion or all their winnings in a digital game.

The scratch ticket buyer takes a chance by playing the online game. They would either increase the prize they won through the ticket, or lose their winnings.

Jeff Martineck, a senior vice president of global lottery product innovation said in the iDecide announcement:

Games featuring iDecide modernize the lottery experience for the consumer. These unique games put the power of choice into the consumer’s hands, moving them seamlessly from retail to digital as they decide how deeply they want to play and win. Best of all, iDecide games firmly connect lottery retailers to the digital channel, maximizing revenues and contributions to lottery good cause programs.

Michigan iLottery Keeps Growing

Whether online or at the corner store, lottery players in Michigan gravitate toward instant games. In the 2021 fiscal year (which ended on Sep 30), Michiganders bought $2.45 billion worth of physical instant game tickets. That’s a 20.1% increase over the previous year, and more than all other retail revenue streams for the lottery combined.

During that same timeframe, iLottery instant ticket sales rose by $22.7 million, or 10.4%, to $241.8 million. That’s despite new competition from legal online casinos in Michigan, which made their debut in January 2021.

The annual report says:

The iLottery program continued to experience sales growth for the seventh year in a row since the launch of the iLottery platform in 2014.

As the lottery says itself in its annual report, online lottery instant game sales grow each year because of its constant game launches “consisting of different game themes, play mechanics, and prize structures.”

So, while an iDecide-like game might not be coming to Michigan immediately, innovation of one form or another will be.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is a writer for Michigan Sharp with a focus on online casino content. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Heather's work in Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report, which lead her to MI Sharp.