Austrian Lottery Tries Casino Games on for Size

9 May 2001
Continuing to grow its online ventures, the Austrian Lottery has branched out once again by offering an online casino.

With the help of Australia-based Access Systems' unit in Ireland, the same partner that developed the Austrian Lottery website, casino games such as roulette, blackjack and slot machines are being offered online by the Austrian Lottery.

Paul Barnes, vice president of sales and marketing for Access, says that once the lottery went online, it was easy to step up to casino games.

"The platform is flexible in terms of the games and site development," Barnes said. "Because the platform is flexible in those ways, it was possible for the casino and the lottery company to do the website by themselves. We just provide the tools for them to do that."

The site launched in late April and Barnes says things are going well so far.

No exact figures are available yet, but Barnes said the initial response has been a success for Casino Austria.

"In terms of turnover I know it is doing very well," he said.

Barnes explained that the Access platform is unique within the industry and was an easy sell for the Austria Lottery and Casino sites.

"We developed that system for them," he said. "We delivered our standard software with payments and interfaces and games for the lottery site. Our platform allows a varied level of interaction. A customer can order all their games from us, or they can put their own graphics on our games or have a third party design the games for them."

A third party, ISI Interact in Dublin, developed the games using Access's Games Development Kit (GDK).

"The way the site is set up, Casino Austria essentially manages the facilities on the Austrian Lottery site," Barnes said. "The platform was in place, the games were then developed using that platform."

Barnes would like to think the marriage of lotteries and online casinos could be a major factor in gaming, but that will be predicated on regulations.

"That will be different depending on the region the lottery is in," he said. "In Austria they are two different sites. There is Austria Lottery and Austria Casino, not the lottery offering casino games. They are sister companies, but they are separate from each other.

"Not all lotteries have subsidiaries that are casinos," he added. "One thing this shows is the power of casino games in attracting players and the turnover that can be achieved with internet-based casino games as opposed to standard lotto games."

European lotteries haven't aligned themselves with online casinos yet, but Barnes admits the foundation is being laid.

"In the European lottery market there is limited scope for doing that," he said. "What there is scope for is demonstrating games like blackjack and slot machines have potential to optimize turnover and ultimately optimize the entertainment of the player."

Whether it is a full-blown casino or just play-for-free games, Barnes feels casino-style games should be integrated into more sites.

"All gaming companies should be thinking about launching these games," he said. "That is a bit of a culture shock to some standard and established lottery companies, but it is a strong demonstration of what can be achieved. The future isn't just casino games, but a wide range of games."

The Austrian lottery site has three groups of games--instant games and traditional passive online lotto draws--and Barnes feels that the site effectively has three key markets of players covered.

Barnes admits that Austrian Lottery officials have a lot of pluses going for them in embracing new technology.

Friendly regulations in Austria add to the company's keys to success. "They push the boundary and have a very strong and competent IT department," he said.

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