In this article, we sit down with Mr. Franco De Gabriele, the Chief Commercial Officer at IZI Group PLC, to gain insights into the company’s preparations for the much-anticipated launch of the Maltese national lottery on July 5th, 2022. The atmosphere at the National Lottery PLC offices radiated energy, pride, and a deep commitment to the monumental task ahead. As we delve into this interview, we unravel the intricacies of this groundbreaking project that marks a historic moment for Malta’s gaming industry.
Exploring the Launch of the Maltese National Lottery
What can you tell us about the project of the National Lottery and how did the company prepare itself for such a defining project?
National Lottery plc, a subsidiary of Malta’s premier land-based gaming operator, the IZI Group, embarked on a significant project more than a decade ago. Collaborating with International Gaming Technology (IGT), we initially bid for the national lottery concession in 2012, narrowly missing out. Undeterred, our commitment persisted, culminating in success a decade later through a rigorous Request for Proposals (RFP) process conducted by the Privatisation Unit (PU) on behalf of the Government of Malta.
The inclusion of the national lottery completes the Group’s diverse portfolio, alongside the Dragonara Casino and IZIBET retail network, offering a comprehensive gaming experience. Preparations began over two years ago and materialized in November 2021 when National Lottery plc was named the Preferred Bidder, marking the largest investment in Malta’s gaming industry and a substantial €125M concession fee over the next decade.
You recently unveiled the National Lottery brand in a symbolic event in Mdina, capturing the true essence of your project, a national lottery service that is truly Maltese?
The Maltese lottery tradition, spanning nearly a century, resonates deeply with the local community. Our commitment to reclaiming a national lottery for Malta materialized during the symbolic unveiling of the National Lottery brand in Mdina. Unlike the past 18 years under a Greek subsidiary’s management, we reinstated the iconic National Lottery brand as the overarching umbrella for all our products, aligning them within a unified ecosystem. Thorough market research guided our decision, ensuring the brand reflects the community’s desires and fosters a strong connection.
Are we to expect major changes to the product portfolio of the National Lottery?
While not revolutionary, we anticipate transformative changes to our product portfolio, particularly draw-based games like Lotto and Super 5. Our emphasis is on enhancing engagement, accessibility, and responsible gaming. Notable adjustments include a second Lotto draw on Tuesdays, removing win caps to provide players their full earnings, and elevating payouts for a more engaging experience. Additionally, exciting new games, such as PICK 3, proven successful in comparable markets, will be introduced.
We will also be introducing a number of new games, that have performed very well in similar markets to Malta. We are excited to see how these new games, such as the PICK 3 will perform.
What do you consider to be the most important factors that will drive the business of the national lottery?
Essential factors driving our business include a robust product portfolio, refined through extensive market research. Our commitment to accessibility is underscored by a forward-looking agency agreement with national lottery agents. Trust, a cornerstone, is nurtured through responsible practices aligned with industry regulations. In fostering innovation, our collaboration with IGT, the world’s leading lottery technology provider, ensures a world-class lottery product throughout the concession.
Finally, what do you consider to be the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in this venture?
Establishing a cohesive work culture, built on core fundamentals, is paramount. Our experienced team, coupled with a continuous pursuit of talent, positions us to capitalize on opportunities that arise from understanding market dynamics. Challenges, inherent in the evolving gaming industry, center on meeting dynamic customer expectations. Upholding our commitment to responsible and transparent gaming, with a zero-tolerance policy for financial crime, remains a challenge we embrace, backed by our exemplary compliance track record.
Our heartfelt thanks to Franco De Gabriele for providing us with a glimpse into the exciting journey of National Lottery PLC. With a robust portfolio, forward-thinking strategies, and a commitment to responsible gaming, the National Lottery is poised for a future brimming with success.
IZI Group is committed to providing unique gaming experiences in responsible and safe environments. We emphasize responsible gaming practices and encourage patrons to visit the Responsible Gaming Foundation at Responsible Gaming Foundation for support and information. All IZI Group plc operations are licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority under the Gaming Act Chapter 583 of the laws of Malta.