In early 2023, NeoGames and EL signed a two-year partnership agreement. In an in-depth interview, our CEO, Moti Malul, reflects on the partnership, it's value to NeoGames and the benefits he sees that it will have for EL members
1. Firstly, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I joined NeoGames in 2008 and served as Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development. I had the opportunity and the pleasure to play a key role in forging successful relationships with NeoGames’ customers around the world, primarily our Lottery customers, doing our very best to ensure they were firmly positioned to significantly boost their iLottery growth and lead their markets.
Prior to joining NeoGames, I served across several key management positions in the telecom and online industries for more than 12 years. Companies I worked for included Ericsson and Smile Media, alongside experiences with startups who were looking to gain a solid standing within their industries.
Towards the end of 2018, I stepped into the role of CEO and together with all our amazing global team, have led the company and our customers to successful partnerships.
Away from work, I do believe that everyone should have a hobby, to clear your mind and have fun. Mine is mountain biking and I do my best to practice that hobby, even if it’s not that easy with my excessive travel schedule.
2. EL welcomes NeoGames as a Level 2 Partner and looks forward to working together. What is the story behind NeoGames, its mission and its role as a supplier?
NeoGames was the company that brought lottery scratchcard games to the online world as early as 2006, and in doing so we gathered a lot of information about players and their behaviours, experiences, and preferences. This gave us a massive advantage in developing strategies and content that would resonate with key segments of the audience and in turn help brands realise their iLottery potential.
NeoGames’ first iLottery customer was Sisal, which partnered with us back in 2009, and we have since grown our network of partners worldwide. One of the key factors in why lotteries trust us is because we pride ourselves on creating and maintaining strong and productive relationships with all of our customers, and we go beyond our product supply, doing our very best to consult on marketing strategies and care about their overall business operations.
We made our US entry in 2014, providing our services to the Michigan State Lottery, in a partnership with Pollard Banknote. With our technology, game content, and online operations experience, we quickly helped that lottery become a true flagbearer for iLottery in the US and perhaps globally. We have also seen customers not only utilise our iLottery content and services but expand to iGaming and online sportsbook offerings. Saska was the first customer to do this in 2017, and ever since, they have grown their online business very impressively and it makes us proud to be part of that success story.
NeoGames was listed as a public company on Nasdaq New York in 2020 to support our ambitious growth targets, and just two years later we made our most significant investment to date by acquiring Aspire Global and its subsidiaries to broaden our product portfolio. This strategic acquisition was made as we noticed the growing trend of lotteries, especially EL lotteries, in becoming full power gaming houses in their online operations, beyond their traditional lottery products, and we wanted to be a strategic partner to be able to provide them with best of breed solutions and services of sports betting and iGaming content.
2023 has already proven to be an exciting year for us. As part of our new partnership with Intralot do Brasil, we have launched the first regulated iLottery and online sports betting solution in Brazil for Loteria Mineira, marking our entry into the country and this offers huge promise.
Our mission is simple – to be the long-term partner of choice for lotteries throughout their online journey. What that means for us is that we strive to be a partner of choice, ensuring that our products and services are always best for our customers because we know they have a choice in every product and every service. We believe in long-term relationships, and we take pride in the strong, everlasting relationships we have created around the world.
As a supplier, our role is to provide leading solutions and services for regulated lotteries around the world. Our full suite of solutions includes proprietary technology platforms, two dedicated game studios with an extensive portfolio of engaging games across lottery, iGaming content and online sports betting, as well as a range of value-added services.
As you may have heard, it was recently announced that Aristocrat, one of the world’s largest and in many ways one of the most successful gaming companies, have made a proposal to acquire NeoGames. We are very proud of the work that NeoGames has done to get to this point and we believe that the combination of both companies will bring significant value to our lottery customers in the short and long-term.
3. In your words, how did the partnership with EL come about and what is the biggest added value of becoming an EL Partner?
NeoGames has been a partner to European lotteries since 2009 and we now have 10 customers across the continent, providing them with world class iLottery technology solutions and online games.
Our customers in Europe include some of the most prominent lotteries, such as Sisal in Italy, Santa Casa in Portugal, Sazka in the Czech Republic and others. These partners enjoy great success with our offering and we truly value our partnerships. With our aim of expanding across Europe, becoming a partner to EL is a natural step forward.
As a leading iLottery supplier at the forefront of innovation, the partnership with EL will enable NeoGames to bring its knowledge and new developments to EL members. We feel that this will play an instrumental role in helping the lotteries advance their content and programs to their players.
4. For over a decade, NeoGames has been providing iLottery technology solutions and online games to European lotteries. What benefits do you see for EL Members of having NeoGames on board as a new Partner?
With a major presence across all of EL’s key events, EL members will gain first-hand insight into our complete iLottery solutions and our recently acquired iGaming and online sports betting best of breed offering, and they can also learn more about the latest developments and innovations unfolding at NeoGames. Crucially, we’ll be in a position to provide delegates with success stories from our existing network of customers, including best practices within iLottery to support their own future strategies.
We have seen a significant shift in recent years where many EL members, in fact most EL members, offer more online gaming products than their traditional retail offering. We believe that having a supplier that is a proven partner to the lottery industry for almost 15 years, and also has a profound understanding of how lotteries think and operate, will enable us to offer the full range of services in a more meaningful way than others who are serving online gaming operators. Today, NeoGames has the best in class offering across iLottery, iGaming, and sports betting. EL members will have the opportunity to get to know the workings of our solutions up close when they speak to us at the numerous EL events that we will be attending throughout the year.
NeoGames CEO, Moti Malul, presenting at The European Lotteries Congress in Croatia in June 2023
5. What are some of the highlights for NeoGames in the last 12 months?
The acquisition of Aspire Global was the standout highlight. The deal confirmed NeoGames as the leading provider across iLottery, iGaming, and sports betting, with the addition of its companies to our portfolio providing us with a full end-to-end solution. Lotteries are set to hugely benefit from our elevated offering. They no longer need just one vertical, instead they require multiple products in order to entertain a wide audience in today’s digital marketplace.
Further to that, our Games Studio continues to lead the industry. Our focus on providing the best eInstant games in the market has helped our customers grow that segment. We believe lotteries in EL still have a lot of potential with eInstants, as this currently represents less than 6% of online sales as is evident in a recent EL study, while in the US for example we see this quickly becoming more than 40% of category sales.
We were delighted to have won two EGR North America Awards with Desert Fantasy claiming the coveted Best New Game award. We also saw wonderful performance in Virginia where Desert Fantasy (titled “The Lamp” in Virginia) holds the record for the most profitable game launch ever for the Virginia Lottery. Total purchases exceeded US$40 million, outperforming its closest eInstant rival by more than 200%. This lottery was also the first to move onto the cloud, becoming the first US lottery to operate a completely cloud-based iLottery program.
Our brand also picked up the win for Lottery Supplier, as we maintained our leading position across the US market during the judging period to claim 68% of the iLottery gross market share.
NeoGames also gained a new lottery customer in the US as we agreed to a deal with the Georgia Lottery to expand its game portfolio offering. Brazil is an incredibly exciting market as the industry awaits regulatory approvals and we will be making our first market entry with Loto Minas. This will see Loto Minas gain the full suite of products from NeoGames, Aspire Global and BtoBet. We will also be making our debut in Greece with OPAP, Greece’s exclusive licensed operator of all wagering activity in the country. This deal will see NeoGames provide our range of eInstant games with the lottery.
With responsible gaming always a huge focus for us, receiving the WLA Responsible Gaming certification was a proud achievement. This global accreditation confirms that NeoGames has achieved full alignment with the WLA responsible gaming standards for lottery suppliers and is a testament to our work to provide safe content and environments for players to enjoy.
6. What have been the biggest challenges in the past years, particularly during the pandemic and ongoing crisis situations? How did you overcome them?
Of course, the pandemic was a huge challenge for all companies, and it was no different here at NeoGames. Thankfully, we have a team full of reliable and dedicated individuals who are willing to go above and beyond for our partners. Alongside our trusted technology, we were in a position to operate in a way that ensured little impact for lotteries. This allowed us to work hard and help our customers grow through the pandemic, leveraging the online channel to greater success.
Another challenge we have faced was our dear team members in Ukraine who have suffered from the ongoing war. We have done our very best, and continue to do so every day in providing support and care as much as we can, and we are so relieved to see that they are mostly safe with their families. Our brave and dedicated teams have allowed us to maintain all commitments to our customers and to do that with a defiant internal spirit and mutually assisting one another makes us very proud.
The ongoing regulatory changes across the globe present unique challenges daily. We regularly speak with regulators on the advantages of legalising iLottery for the benefit of the players, which in turn will generate more revenue that will go directly to many charities and worthy causes.
7. What are some of the priorities for NeoGames this year?
We are focused on reinforcing our position as a global leader of iLottery and iGaming solutions and services for regulated lotteries and gaming operators. We also want to continue to capitalize on the strength we now have as a group and expand into new markets and regions. It is also important for us to inform lotteries, regulators, and government officials about the importance and benefits of going digital. From our experience, we see the digital channel as a lottery’s insurance policy for achieving continued growth.
8. What opportunities do you see in the two-year partnership with EL?
EL is the European lottery sector’s largest and most representative organisation. Being a partner sends a great message to lotteries in Europe that we are a major brand committed to the sector and will continue to work hard to ensure its long-term future.
We believe there is a strong opportunity to reinforce our position as a leading iLottery supplier, while also significantly increasing our exposure to European lotteries.
9. EL and its Members stand united in their core values of responsibility, sustainability, and integrity. How does NeoGames integrate these into its business model?
EL’s core values certainly resonate with those we hold at NeoGames. We pride ourselves on ensuring player safety and providing a responsible environment for players. Obtaining WLA responsible gaming certification is testament to the hard work we put towards player safety.
Sustainability is embedded in our business strategy, which sets out targets across four areas aimed at the long-term well-being of all our stakeholders. Reporting is an essential part of being transparent on KPIs and the progress in limiting potentially negative impacts and maximizing our positive contribution to the industry and wider society.
Some of our sustainability achievements include gaining an ISO (Re) Certification, which has beneficial in driving our business forward in new markets, while our responsible marketing campaigns ensure we promote our products and services in a compliant way. Our employees volunteering in projects and initiatives allow them to give back to their communities, which they greatly value. In addition to this, we take great pride in training our staff and giving them the guidance and expertise to thrive in their roles throughout the company, no matter the department. Finally, we pride ourselves on having a diverse and inclusive culture, which has contributed to an increase in creativity and productivity and reduced staff turnover.
10. Finally, you recently exhibited at the EL Congress & Trade Show! What were some highlights for you from the event?
We really enjoyed connecting with some of our long-standing European customers, as well as forming new relationships and showing the congress delegates our industry leading offering and services.
It was great to have the opportunity to reinforce the message that the NeoGames group of companies brings a fresh and powerful combination to the EL members.
This article was originally featured on The European Lotteries website. To go to the article, click here.
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