1on1 with Frank Cecchini at Novomatic Lottery Solutions
1on1 with Frank Cecchini at Novomatic Lottery Solutions
Novomatic Lottery Solutions (NLS) was formed after Novomatic AG, one of the largest integrated gaming companies in the world, acquired Betware, the Icelandic internet lottery and gaming pioneer, in 2013.
Since that time, NLS has grown to challenge the world’s leading lottery solutions providers. Its global remit spans the retail and interactive sectors, all of which is tied together by the group’s flexible and open platform.
NLS is currently chasing opportunities on a worldwide scale and, according to the company’s chief executive, Frank Cecchini, this growth shows no sign of slowing, as the group aims to become the number-one technology provider to the lottery and state-regulated gaming industry.
Totally Gaming: How have the past 12 months been for Novomatic Lottery Solutions?
Frank Cecchini: The last 12 months have been incredibly busy for NLS. We recently delivered contracts in Tunisia and Catalonia, signed contracts in Estonia, and are finalising a deal in Laos. In February, we were selected as the lottery platform provider for OPAP in Greece, and earlier this month we were awarded a three-year contract for the design and management of Norsk Tipping’s instant games, along with digital versions of the lottery’s Flax game. To put things into perspective, when I joined the company back in 2014, we were a team of about 120 people. By the end of this year our team is projected to comprise almost 500 people.
Totally Gaming: Could you describe the supplier-operator relationship when it comes to the development of new lottery solutions?
FC: The lottery world operates differently to the other sectors in which Novomatic is active. Most lotteries do not take a product ‘off the shelf’. Preferring instead a purpose built solution that addresses their own particular needs and challenges. Even if they sell very similar games to their neighbours, almost all lotteries will specify their own system. Operators’ individual requirements have a direct impact on our approach, and we have placed a strong focus on creating an open and flexible lottery platform. Conversely, the commercial market (and most lotteries feel they are in competition with the commercial market), operators tend use best-of-breed content and products, via a standard platform and do not necessarily buy everything from one provider. Danske Spil, for example, has different providers for online sports betting, bingo and casino-style content, and we provide the platform. With this in mind, our system needs to be open, technologically advanced but straightforward enough to allow the quick and easy integration of new content and functionality providers, enabling our customers to use and profit from best of breed content and management tools. As and when that content gets tired, it’s easy and quick to disconnect or change them out for a new provider.
Totally Gaming: When did Novomatic Lottery Solutions enter the mobile market, and how do you approach this sector?
FC: We’ve been working in mobile since 2010. We did the first applications for the Scandinavian lotteries fairly early on. However, in our view, ‘Mobile is Internet’ and ‘Internet is Mobile’ so discussion of the mobile must be in the context of the internet in general. We put the first lottery online in 1996 – two years before the launch of the original Google search engine. Our philosophy today is: what works on the internet should work on mobile. There is very little difference between using a desktop, tablet or mobile device. In order to create a seamless experience, we use responsive web design and HTML5. Whether we build a native or non-native app, it has to work just as well on a mobile phone as it does on a laptop or tablet, irrespective of screen size.
Totally Gaming: How do you approach the creation of new content? Do you focus on games with universal appeal, or are you taking a more localised approach?
FC: You need different content for different markets. I don’t subscribe to the one-game-fits-all approach. The Candy Crushes of the world do exist, but global hits happen very rarely. What works in eastern Europe doesn’t necessarily work in western Europe, and what works in the US doesn’t necessarily work in South America. You need content that is tuned to the market you are trying to serve. We develop our own content, which we have deployed in Scandinavia and some other markets, but we also work with external content providers, such as Gamevy in the UK, and some other companies across Europe and the rest of the world. There are ‘garage startups’ consisting of a small number of developers with very low overheads and very high levels of creativity. They come up with some really great ideas and are able to deploy them quickly. It is important that we enable people like this to sell their content to our customers for deployment on our platforms; - the more sources of content, the better the chance of finding the blockbuster game that makes a significant contribution to the bottom line.
Totally Gaming: NLS once again had a presence on the massive Novomatic booth at ICE this year. How was the show for you in 2017?
FC: It was very good for us indeed. ICE, as you know, is more about gaming and less about lotteries; however, the event is well frequented by lottery professionals, especially those who are also in the gaming market. By our presence there, it is clear to all that NLS is an important part of the Novomatic portfolio, and that the lottery market figures highly in the group’s overall strategy. If a lottery wishes to get some intelligence on what is going on in the commercial market, they need to go to ICE.
Totally Gaming: Finally, what’s top of your agenda for 2017?
FC: Top of the agenda for the year is to deliver OPAP. We will provide the group with an innovative and secure omni-channel platform for all lottery games. This is a major project that will probably complete in the first quarter of 2018. We also have to finish delivering the system for the Estonian lottery, and close some business in North America, South America and the Far East. We will continue to develop and improve our system as well as our people and to stay ahead of our competitors. We want to become a platform that can bridge the commercial and the state world, allowing content to come together.
Totally Gaming says: A giant of the gaming world, the Novomatic Group is no stranger to innovation, as the company looks to expand its global reach across a range of sectors – from casino slots to interactive gaming. Though less than five years old, Novomatic Lottery Solutions is pushing the envelope of innovation in its own field. And as operators continue to realise the benefits of the group’s open and easy-to-use platform, growth for Novomatic’s lottery division looks set to continue throughout 2017 and beyond.