IGT: New Execs Combine Complementary Strengths with a Single Purpose

A conversation about lottery-customer perspectives and how to shape the player experience with IGT’s Wendy Montgomery, SVP, Global Lottery Marketing, and Stefano Monterosso, SVP, Same Store Sales, Analytics, Optimization, and Business Proposals.

The two most recent executives to join IGT’s lottery organization combine a wealth of complementary experience, together giving customers a powerful ally in harnessing the main drivers of lottery growth. Wendy Montgomery brings 13 years of lottery-customer experience from Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG), where she was SVP Lottery and iGaming, with significant experience developing game and technology solutions to deliver lottery innovation for players and retailers. She draws on a career spanning four continents and 30 years of marketing high-profile brands, from consumer packaged goods to media, entertainment, and gaming. Stefano Monterosso brings expertise in consumer packaged goods (Procter & Gamble), international organizations (United Nations and the European Space Agency) and management consulting (Bain & Company), and previously spent five years at IGT. With more than 14 years of industry knowledge spanning international lottery markets and business areas, and having lived in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and the U.S., Monterosso is working with lotteries to capitalize on business intelligence, market research, and future-focused games and initiatives.

Q: What do you see as the biggest barriers customers are facing today?

Stefano Monterosso: It’s difficult, as we all know, to attract younger generations to the lottery. This is especially true in the U.S., where internet wagering isn’t allowed in most jurisdictions. Among other challenges is that, often, it’s difficult for lotteries to recruit retailers or to offset retailer consolidation. Then there are the specific regulatory constraints on pricing, payouts, or games. In some jurisdictions there might be a significant push for gaming expansion, while in others there might be a public desire to reduce it, which could affect lottery. Given that we work across the world, the circumstances that we help customers manage are very diverse. For me it’s always interesting to see how different markets evolve and their different stages of development.

Wendy Montgomery: Even though I’ve worked in the lottery industry for 13 years, there are nuances by market, and not all lotteries have the same appetite for change. I think one of the beauties of our industry is that, once we understand the needs and nuances, we can share learnings from other markets. When another lottery has gone first – because the regulations in their market permitted them to, or because they had a certain opportunity – others can benefit from their experience. We can share the learnings and draw on relevant resources to make a real difference for customers, which is very rewarding.

Q: One area where your backgrounds overlap is consumer packaged goods (CPG). Stefano, you began your career at Procter & Gamble, and Wendy, you’ve managed marketing for brands such as Hanes, Tampax, and Doritos how does that experience come into play in our industry?

Wendy Montgomery: It’s still retail and fast-moving consumer goods, with the same kind of rich emotional drivers of consumer behavior. When people buy a lottery ticket, it’s about hopes and dreams. I certainly drew on my CPG marketing experience when I began working on the lottery side, and those learnings are helpful even though my role today is different. It still starts with understanding your customers and their players’ needs, then delivering the products and communicating about those products to create awareness and encourage trial.

Q: Stefano, you’re focused on helping to further develop customers’ lottery profit, both internationally and in North America. Do you have a certain philosophy of how that should be done?

Stefano Monterosso: Our recommendations are usually different for each lottery, because of different regulations and challenges. Even the retailer base is different: In Europe, for example, the retail locations are on average smaller than in North America, and in Asia and Africa they’re often even smaller. Foot traffic and urbanicity is different, and even the different climatic conditions can affect how people physically interact with the retailer. But there are many similarities as well. Light gaming and entertainment are fundamental needs of humanity, so we often see common behaviors and reactions to specific game or distribution innovations. Our philosophy is to try to cross-fertilize best practices, while understanding each market’s peculiarities and extract the key components to drive growth.

Q:  Wendy, you’ve spoken about the opportunity to harvest the assets of lottery, such as good causes, brand value, and the retailer network. Have you started to formulate an approach to this?

Wendy Montgomery: Of those assets, good causes is one that U.S. and U.K. lotteries and some others around the world are good at communicating. I think it’s an opportunity to engage younger players in particular. We know from recent IGT research on Millennials and non-regular players that many within these groups care about knowing what organizations benefit from lottery, and they care about where they’re spending their money. They want to know that an organization is reputable and does good things in society. There’s no better example than lottery, and that’s not well known among younger generations. I recognize that it’s a challenge, as those messages don’t necessarily have the same immediate impact on sales as when you’re promoting the size of the jackpot.

Another asset I’d like to help the industry harvest is the overall lottery experience. There’s an opportunity to modernize the playing experience at retail – beyond how a player purchases a ticket. How can our lottery customers leverage those points of distribution and that presence to digitize and modernize the playing experience, and link the mobile phone to that experience? From my experience in lottery and around the world, the introduction of sales on the internet hasn’t negatively impacted bricks and mortar. It has actually been a very positive experience for the whole industry. People tend to think about digital society as being distinct from the rest of society, especially where lotteries are still not sold on the internet, but it’s all entwined.

Stefano Monterosso: To Wendy’s point, one of the great opportunities I think we have in the digital world is to try to embed the social network experience in the game in a way that can uniquely affect how lottery is played. In Asia, for example, MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) provide a unique experience that can be offered only thanks to the peer-to-peer nature of the games. This category is huge, with some games accounting for more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. I am convinced that in lottery there is also a significant opportunity to leverage the social experience, enhancing the value for players and appealing to younger demographics.

Q: How is IGT leading by example to demonstrate that the ultimate emphasis must be on reaching players how they want to be reached?

Wendy Montgomery: We’ve got a number of different workstreams underway with IGT’s product and content innovation teams. Some involve looking at ways to bridge the digital/retail gap, and some are looking specifically at innovation in gameplay and the overall gaming experience. One program has worked with like-minded client lottery executives to co-create ideas for new lottery experiences for the future. They generated more than 45 preliminary concepts and selected four for prototyping and market validation. Others across IGT are working not only with customers but also with outside experts and third parties to bring more insights and innovations, and to share thought leadership with our customers.

Stefano Monterosso: In Italy, where we have a strong B2C business, we are definitely leading the market in terms of reaching players across the different channels. The market there is very competitive, with more than 100 interactive operators. Where regulation allows, we are extremely effective in reaching players across channels. For example, in sports betting more than 30% of our business is through the interactive/mobile channel, thanks to an innovative offering specifically tailored to the needs of interactive players. The regulatory environment is key in driving what it is possible. In the U.S., our PlaySpot™ solution is the first to offer customers the opportunity to let players wager on premises with their personal devices, even in jurisdictions where broader area interactive wagering is not regulated. PlaySpot won “Lottery Product of the Year” at the 11th Annual International Gaming Awards in London in February 2018. In the U.S. this solution is already live with customers, and lottery and gaming partners in all of our markets globally are looking at it.

Q: How would you like to see lottery evolve at this time of increasing convergence, to remain relevant and sustainable?

Wendy Montgomery: I go back to one of the assets of the industry: good causes. When we continue to offer new and exciting choices to players and keep them engaged, it leads to a flow of funds to good causes, which is of value to global society. This business has to be one of variety and excitement, new styles of playing, new experiences — be they retail, digital, or a combination of both.

Stefano Monterosso: I see gaming as part of being entertained. People like to play. It’s a fundamental need, and our job is to fill it responsibly and make sure that lotteries stay relevant. That means making sure we have a wide customer base, because it brings funding to good causes and also hopefully it focuses people on a responsible form of entertainment. It’s also a tradition. In some countries lottery games go back hundreds of years, and it goes back to the first immigrants in the U.S. In several countries there are concepts connected to specific numbers, which gives us another playful perspective on the game. Lotteries need to continue adopting new technologies and new forms of distribution. The favorable evolution of the regulatory context in the U.S. is key to enabling lotteries to stay relevant and leverage the fundamental human need for play, generating important revenues to good causes.

Q: Wendy, immediately after you arrived at IGT this year you became involved in several of the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Can you talk more about this commitment?

Wendy Montgomery: I was involved in setting up the first women’s network at the OLG as part of the diversity and inclusion effort there. When I heard about IGT’s focus on diversity and inclusion, I knew it could be really powerful not only for the organization, but for the industry. I’m currently the executive co-sponsor, with IGT’s CFO Alberto Fornaro, of our global Women’s Inclusion Network. And one of the things I enjoy about working with Stefano is that, because we come from different places and we have different experiences and strengths, it equates to more than “one plus one.”

Stefano Monterosso: I totally agree. Diversity enriches us as people and enriches the industry collectively. It’s a business imperative. As an organization, we support and at the same time we learn from lotteries that are so diverse that there’s a continuous flow of knowledge back and forth. We learn every day and we try to give back every day.

Contact: Stefano Monterosso, Stefano.Monterosso@igt.com and Wendy Montgomery, Wendy.Montgomery@igt.com

For recent IGT research on Millennials and non-regular players, visit igt.com/LotteryWhitepapers

This content is offered by IGT. For more information, visit igt.com/LotteryWhitepapers.

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