Over the last ten or twenty years, most businesses have seen substantial digital progress. Notably, the Internet and Covid-19 has accelerated the digital world even further, changing user patterns at warp speed. Likewise, digital games also play a major role the same way it has always played, even since before the internet existed.
Traditional lottery is played by using cash to buy paper tickets, which are sold through a network of small shops. If you win, you then return to the shop to collect your winnings in cash.
According to the CEO and Founder of Lucky Gift Cards, “It sounds old-fashioned just saying it out loud.”
He believes that “…old-fashioned system has lots of shortcomings. People lose their tickets or forget to check their numbers to see if they have won. Only in February of this year, a £20M jackpot win went unclaimed, and in January over £5M of prize money was about to be returned to the prize pot because it had been unclaimed for so long. That’s not possible with a digital lottery.”
Traditional lotteries also have prohibitions, whereby lotteries run by the state can only be played by people in that country. “Our vision is a lottery that’s played entirely online, from anywhere, without any paper tickets. That “play anywhere” idea, will expose the complexity of trying to use traditional currencies cross border, which in turn will underline the need for a borderless currency, like bitcoin.”
“By making lottery digital, with bitcoin at its core, we are taking all these barriers down. No queueing in a shop, no paper tickets, no missing the draw. Plus, the low costs of running a digital lottery means that we can offer much bigger jackpots – certainly much bigger like-for-like jackpots than any state lottery or other online lottery site.”
How Does a Digital Lottery Work?
“A digital lottery is played entirely online using digital currency, such as bitcoin. There are some lotteries that allow players to buy tickets on a website and there are others which allow players to deposit digital currency, but then convert it to a local currency in order to play. Neither of those are digital.”
Sulim regards them as “hybrids. For us, the key element is allowing people to play using digital currency, which is a much better way to play. It allows transactions to be carried out more efficiently and at a lower cost than using traditional currencies through banks and card providers.”
“For example, with banks and cards, you can wait days to be paid when you win. Lottery players don’t want to wait days. With a truly digital lottery, pay-outs are instant. Plus, the future potential is huge, particularly when CBDCs go mainstream. It would be simple for us to transact using CBDCs as well as bitcoin.”
Has this area of gambling seen a boost from Covid-19?
According to Sulim, very much so, “Historically, lottery performs well in downturns and recession. Covid-19 has put a lot of the world into recession, so yes, the industry as a whole has performed well. But more significant than that, Covid-19 has exposed the flaws and tensions in the traditional lottery model.”
“The networks of small retailers that national lotteries depend on prefer the traditional way of playing because lottery gets a lot more people into their shops. The operators can see the benefits of going digital, but don’t want to alienate the retailers, so they have a problem. That’s been laid bare by Covid-19 when many of the retailers had to close, and the operators were forced to try digital methods. Of course, we have no such conflict of interest.”
What prompted you to get into this with your financial background?
“I was a bond trader for 20 years and when the financial futures market in London closed in 2000, I started day trading, but didn’t really take to trading on computers.”
“This was at the time when the BlackBerry had been launched and I spotted an opportunity to develop a real time financial info app for mobile. That’s what I did. It became the most downloaded and highest rated app of its kind on the BlackBerry App Store, ahead of Bloomberg’s.”
“When iPhones appeared and mobile gaming became big, we used our knowledge and experience to create a stock market game. I eventually sold the game and IP to a lottery operator and joined them.”
“As the company moved towards online lottery, and then bitcoin lottery, I took over as CEO. So, while bond trader to bitcoin lottery seems a big leap, you can see that there has been a very logical progression that was a result of backing trends and shifts towards mobile and the convergence of gaming and markets.”
How do you guarantee security for participants?
“Let me answer that by covering the three main aspects of online security.
- First security of data:
We separate our lottery platform from our payment processor, so no payment data is stored on the same servers. Our fully redundant, fully resilient data centre, which is where we store all customer’s personal data, is located in Switzerland, is Tier 3 certified, and has all of the required ISO and IEC accreditation needed. Security of the entire infrastructure is protected from external threats such as denial of service, or bots, through Cloudflare.
- Next, the security of funds:
Our customer’s funds are held securely in cold storage automatically. Each server-to-server request and response is encrypted using the HMACSHA-512 algorithm, which is an encryption method similar to that used within blockchains because it is very hard to break. What this all means is that transactions are extremely secure as are funds. Besides that, the system requires confirmation of all significant actions with 2FA. We use a payment processor who follows best practices on the protection of personal data in accordance with European legislation.
- Finally, security of winnings:
We have a global eGaming license which means we are bound by a strict set of rules, including measures against anti-fraud practices. We also insure all our jackpots with the largest and most widely used prize indemnity insurance provider worldwide. What that means for players is that anyone who plays legitimately, by that I mean that they are over 18 and reside in one of the countries listed on our website, is guaranteed to get paid.”
Are you using Ethereum for your projects?
“No, we don’t use Ethereum anywhere in our business, or for any of our projects. That has been a deliberate decision. We believe that Ethereum has some performance issues that make it unsuitable for the kind of thing we’re doing. But it’s also expensive to process and we believe it’s having issues with scaling.
Bitcoin is a much better option for us. It’s the leading and most widely followed cryptocurrency. So, we’re totally committed to bitcoin.”
Do you have any competition in the crypto space?
“Yes, there are a few that would call themselves “bitcoin lotteries”, but none offering anything similar to us. Either they only accept bitcoin as a payment for lotteries that are really played in traditional currencies, or they provide blockchain denominated lotteries, but with very small jackpots. None has the same global reach as we do or offers the range of great ways to earn bitcoin, such as our Refer-a-Friend program or Lucky Gift Cards.”
What’s next in your pipeline?
“We have lots of exciting things in the pipeline. We’ve recently added six new lotteries, and we’re planning to add more. We also plan to add more games, as well as offering players the ability to buy bitcoin directly on our site.
As our user base expands into more countries, we want to offer Crypto Millions Lotto in multiple languages.
We also have an affiliate program in the pipeline, which we believe will offer a more attractive proposition than other affiliate programs already out there. We will launch that before the end of May.”
You fall under the umbrella of a PLC. Do you plan to go public?
“Yes, we do have plans to go public. We are structured as a PLC which enables us to list on a UK exchange. We are leaning towards listing in the USA at the moment. There, it is still possible to reverse into companies that are already listed and that have been set up specifically to make acquisitions – so called SPACs. That would expedite the whole process for us. Plus, we have seen several gambling companies on US exchanges that have recently been acquired in this way, so we know that online gaming is currently a hot sector in the States.
There is another option which is to be acquired by a Capital Pool Company on Canada’s TSX-V. We’re keeping a close eye on all the activity in North America at the moment. Right now, all our options are open.”
The future looks bright for digital lotteries and with the speed of adoption of digital applications coupled with the advantages of the blockchain, Sulim Malook and Lucky Gift Cards, may well have picked the winning numbers.