The UK’s gambling economy had a strong year in 2016; so strong that punters across the country wagered almost £14 billion according to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). That’s more than was spent on film production in the UK last year (£1.35 billion), more than Brits waste on gym memberships annually (£558 million) and a few cappuccinos below the amount we spend on coffee each year (£14.5 billion).
As a nation, the UK loves a flutter, which is why it’s hardly surprising the lotteries are such a big deal. Currently generating more than £3.2 billion and accounting for 24 percent of the industry’s turnover, lotteries such as the National Lotto are a clear fan favourite. However, if there’s one thing we love more than betting on the lottery, it’s betting online. Remote gambling as it’s defined by the UKGC is now responsible for 32 percent of the industry’s earnings. That makes it the largest sector in UK gaming and, in many respects, the driving force when it comes to ideas and innovations.
The Mother of Invention is Nurtured by the Internet
Despite the natural order of things currently inspiring the masses to ante-up more and more each year, necessity is the mother of invention and the tide is slowly turning. Under the weight of popularity and the unrelenting pace of technological development, the traditional lottery model is changing. The familiar concept of taking a chance, buying a ticket and hoping the right combination of numbers come in is giving way to a new, more cost-effective system.
The Free National Lotto is new concept that’s aiming to take the financial sting out of betting and, in doing so, make lotteries a more attractive prospect. Piggybacking off the current popularity of lottery and online gaming, Free National Lotto gives players remote access to daily and weekly draws. But, in a twist on convention, the operator has removed the cost of buying a ticket. When the National Lotto’s operator Camelot upped the price of a ticket to £2.50, it was forced to defend its decision from angry players.
Under the umbrella of the internet and its unique ways of generating revenue, Free National Lotto has moved in the opposite direction. Using an advertising revenue model, the operator is able to provide free draws and still turn a profit. Much like the regular Lotto, players create an account, choose five numbers (from a batch numbered 1 to 40) and that gains them entry into two draws. As expected, the prizes on offer pale in comparison to the National Lotto, with Daily Draws offering £5 per day and biweekly games putting up £10-a-time. However, and this is the difference, the draws are always free.
A Never-ending Cycle of Innovation
Although the prizes can’t compare in terms of size, the games are starting to pique the interests of players. With rollovers possible, the biweekly draw had a jackpot worth more than £650 at the last count. However, beyond the value to individual players, the Free National Lotto is an example of how the internet is changing the way we operate. Just as it’s transformed the entertainment industry and the way we gather information, websites have given us a new take on traditionally popular gaming concepts.
Essentially, it’s this continued drive for innovation that’s created a new take on lottery gaming and, in all likelihood, will produce more unique offerings in the future. Indeed, a decade ago, the concept of gambling without the financial expense would have seemed as ludicrous as mobile phones did in the sixties. With gambling now one of the most buoyant leisure markets in the UK and players constantly demanding more, it seems the free online lotteries are just the tip of the gaming iceberg.