How different is the business of running a sports book from the business of running a lottery? I started to find out, when Andre explained how he lost millions on Super Bowl 53!
Instant games are manufactured products, rather than live performances. Their prize values can be distributed however best keeps players engaged, rather than by clear and simple rules as is the case with draw games. Small wonder that they have been the big success story of the past 50 years or so. Take the long view with me, in NASPL Insights June 2019!
Draw games in North America show the marks of their making, mostly in the 1980s. Running these games is a performance that plays to a dwindling audience. Yet there may be ways to engage people in new modes, as I suggest in NASPL Insights April 2019.
A new look for lottery
And I mean a new ‘looking for’ as well as a new ‘look’. Rather than sticking to game mechanics that have simple, obvious math defining the outcome probabilities, let’s ‘look for’ play value first. Get the probabilities by numerical simulation (teaching a computer to play). The grid above could be worth significant money, in the game I describe in NASPL Insights February 2019!
Humans have a hard time with the abstract concept of randomness, especially as applied to rare events. A truly random process distributes rare events less evenly than we intuitively expect. In the lottery world, this can lead to some players winning more than seems ‘reasonable’. This can lead people to mistrust the lottery. Mistrust is amplified if some players buy winning tickets at a discount, from players who do not wish to identify themselves to the lottery. Lotteries may need to act quietly to preserve public trust, as I discuss in the December 2018 NASPL Insights.
People are publicly passionate about sports, as about little else. Where they bet money on sports, the collision of passions and skill can support a big business. Lotteries, accustomed to running games of pure chance, face a steep learning curve if they get involved in sports betting. But there is potential to use a sporting event to determine the outcome of a game of pure chance- if the player bets randomly. How can lotteries develop this opportunity? I explore this question in NASPL Insights September 2018.
Historically, state-sponsored lotteries have relied on the sheer volume of transactions, achieved through their monopoly status, to make the risk of paying big prizes reasonable. However, these advantages may be absent when a new game is started. Other businesses have developed risk-sharing mechanisms, including insurance against specific risks. ‘Synthetic’ lotteries like Lottoland have shown these can work in gaming. There maybe something to learn here, as I discuss in NASPL Insights August 2018.
Within Keno, players can put their money on any of several very different wagers. They all have the same very plain look and feel, yet some get a lot of action while others get little. What can we learn from this? I compare the likely winning experience of different wagers and identify what seems to be engaging the players in Michigan, in NASPL Insights June 2018.
Keno, a traditional game with origins in Asia, is a busy game: from a huge cast of characters (numbers 1 through 80) it scrambles 20 across the stage every drawing. It looks complicated for the player, with several different types of bet available. And yet, it thrives better than most draw games in settings where there is an opportunity to play every few minutes. Why? The math of the game supports the hopeful intuitions of players, as I show in NASPL Insights April 2018.
The most important innovation in draw games in decades goes by the name “Link2Win”. These game refreshingly simple and visually appealing in appearance, but beauty is more than skin-deep in this case: the mathematical properties of these games provide advantages unlike anything else I have seen. For a glance, look here; for a more thorough discussion check out my article in Gaming Intelligence, March 23, 2018.