MyLotto driving down store sales - former retailer

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thursday, 16 August 2018, 3:45p.m.
The online MyLotto system was introduced in 2008 and now made up 17 per cent of total sales. Photo / file
The online MyLotto system was introduced in 2008 and now made up 17 per cent of total sales. Photo / file

A former Lotto retailer fears the shift to the online MyLotto system is driving retailers out of business and taking the emotion out of the state-owned gambling operation.

A Central Otago Lotto player last night bagged $22.3 million, the biggest Powerball prize in the South Island's history, and the largest Powerball prize ever won on MyLotto.

Over 20 years selling Lotto tickets, the former owner and operator of a Whangārei store says she has seen a steady decline in store sales since Lotto introduced the online MyLotto system in 2008.

She was consistently in the country's top 10 Lotto retailers, and sold 10 major winning tickets, with the top a $2m first division winner.

"I gave millions away to Lotto winners, and hundreds of thousands in scratchies.

"When MyLotto came in there was a very negative reaction from retailers, we knew we would not be able to compete. It would be like the enemy we couldn't see."

With increasing numbers of Kiwis using smartphones, tablets and computers, retailers simply could not compete, she said.

"The competition is huge. Each one of those is like a Lotto store.

"I would try and give customers a reason not to just do it online. I was as nice as I could be, I had some extremely loyal customers."

But it was to no avail.

"Regulars would come in to buy a magazine and tell me, 'I don't need a Lotto ticket, I've already bought mine online'. It was upsetting."

While some new retailers were making do with the existence of MyLotto, she had seen the before and the after impacts.

"I have definitely noticed a decline in sales. A lot of older customers still come in, but the younger ones all do it online."

MyLotto now made up about 17 per cent of total Lotto sales.

While the financial losses were not the kicker that made her sell her store last year, each win online - including last night's - was another blow.

She understood Lotto was "keeping with the times", but she felt they were losing something bigger.

"I love Lotto, and we have to accept online shopping is with us, but playing online becomes emotionless. Lotto wants to give people that winning feeling. "

Over her 20 years in the business she had many special stories to tell.

"One time a man won second division and he said to me, 'Now I can buy my mum a headstone'."

Some of the best were smaller wins, including a time two brothers won $600.

"They were outside hopping and hollering, and they said their mum was turning 80 over in Australia, but they only had enough money for one of them to go. They even pulled straws. With the $600 they could both go."

Another time a couple won $75,000 just before Christmas, allowing them to take a family holiday to Australia.

The Lotto wins did not always have the most positive outcomes.

"The couple who won $2m, they split up.

"Another lady won second division, it was quite big, and she said to me, 'This has given me what I needed to leave my husband'. I didn't know how to feel about that one.

"But either way, there have been so many amazing stories, and you just don't get that personal connection with MyLotto."

She was optimistic it would turn around at some point.

"I think it will go back to stores in the end. People will want that experience, that human connection."

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