Dr. Alexander Labak: New Leadership at Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries (Interview)
Dr. Alexander Labak joined the management board of Casinos Austria AG on 1 June 2017, taking over the position of director general from Dr. Karl Stoss. At the same time, Dr. Labak was appointed to the management board and chairman of Austrian Lotteries.
After completing university degrees in Austria and the U.S., Dr. Labak worked in the marketing departments of several successful international companies, focusing on brand marketing and development, as well as consumer-centric product management. These positions led to service in top management of financial businesses. As Chief Executive Officer of Home Credit Group of Home Credit and Finance Bank, LLC., Dr. Labak was responsible for the Europe region, encompassing 53 countries and serving 9,000 MasterCard member financial institutions. Prior to joining Home Credit B.V., Dr. Labak served as Chief Marketing Officer of Deutsche Bank. Prior to Deutsche Bank, he held senior management posts at a diverse range of leading global organisations in Germany, Canada, Italy, Austria and the United States. Dr. Labak is a Fulbright Scholar holding an MBA from the Wharton Business School and a PhD from the Vienna University of Economics & Business Administration.
What have you valued most about your working experience?
Dr. Alexander Labak: For me, it has always been important to work in dynamic international teams. Working efficiently and economically for the benefit of the company and its customers, correctly assessing and managing risk has always been a top priority in my line of work. The further development and re-invention of best-selling products and services, as well as innovations in various fields and “putting the customer first”, have also been at the core of my professional efforts.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in the Lottery industry?
Lotteries are for everyone! They are for the young generation looking for fun and entertainment as well as for those already in retirement, dreaming of a little extra money. Lottery games are widely successful: little risk and small stakes provide the chance to “live the dream” with a big lottery win. This concept is timeless, but we have to adapt the structures of gameplay and participation to the needs of modern customers – we have to make it easy, make it exciting, make it available anywhere and anytime, provide a purpose, and sell our products AND our brand.
Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries had a fantastic year 2016, and so far 2017 has been going well. However, we are still strongly focused on innovation and aim to develop the next generation lottery products.
What first actions will you take in this new function?
Joining Casinos Austria as only the third Director General in the company’s 50-year history gives me a special responsibility when it comes to leading the company to continued and long-term success. The gaming industry is currently in a period of dynamic change, which brings with it opportunities, but also risks, for our companies. I am looking forward immensely to the new challenge and am confident that as a strong team, we will be successful in all strategic areas of our business.
I am currently deep-diving into all processes, products and ways of distribution. Efficiency and effectiveness are the keywords – optimisations and reorganisations will naturally follow. My main focus is on digitalisation. Austrian Lotteries has long years of experience in offering its products on the internet with our win2day platform. However, the level of digitalisation from the customers’ perspective is not where it could and should be. We need to deploy modern technologies to provide much easier access to our games,.
What will your lottery organization look like in 10 years?
Austrian Lotteries has always been good at combining traditional values and modern technologies. In 10 years we should – and I’m sure that we will – have established a new customer base within the younger generation, making the so-called “millennials” our strongest target group. There will be lots of new products as well as “revamped” classics – all available online and offline – that best meet the individual’s needs. Organisationally, I expect that we will see more international, cross-border cooperations with other licensed operators throughout Europe and a much better use of synergies between individual products and distribution channels.
What do you think are the benefits of being an EL Member?
The European Lotteries Association provides a great opportunity to share best practices, innovative approaches and experiences. At the same time, it is important to have an organisation that allows licensed operators to speak “with one voice” when it comes to legal issues and debates regarding the values of our society(s). I expect a high level of cooperation and fairness among the members as well as EL providing the organisational framework to exchange insights, experience, and expertise.
Which services provided by the Association are really important to you?
A common framework of security and professional standards is a most valuable component to the organisation, including certification for our responsible gaming standard. Also, meeting and working together with colleagues from other lottery operators is highly beneficial for all members.
What would be your first action if you won the lottery?
Well, I hope I would donate the entire amount to good causes!
Why do you think people dream so much about winning the jackpot?
Essentially, winning the lottery is about winning your freedom, being independent from anyone and anything. The fact that you are free to choose where and how to live, where to travel, how and when and for what purpose to work is something that appeals to everyone – irrespective of age or gender. And also, let’s not forget: Dreaming is quite a bit of fun. It helps us to think about and clarify a sense of purpose so that we achieve the things in our lives that are most important to us.
What would a world without State Lotteries look like?
Without state-licensed lotteries it would probably be difficult to ensure a high level of regulation, safety and security for the consumers and society as a whole. The state and society have no interest in excessive gambling activities – the detrimental effects on the financial situation of persons affected by gambling addiction can still be seen when it comes to illegal offers of games of chance, and in countries that have no regulations in place. At the same time, since the beginning of time, people have been fascinated by games and games of chance. State lotteries can provide a regulated outlet and environment for these primordial needs without posing too much of a risk for anyone involved. Basically, we need state-licensed lotteries to keep games of chance fun entertainment that are consumed responsibly.
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