HALIFAX – The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) is testing blockchain for its products, but it’s also looking at how the technology could impact the larger lottery industry.
Jamie Davison, VP Digital Gaming and Innovation for Atlantic Lottery, said the company’s Innovation Outpost in Halifax has integrated blockchain in a test digital gaming portal.
Atlantic Lottery is testing the use of blockchain to allow players to create a digital wallet, which would keep data on their recent transactions, among other things. The company is also testing blockchain for random number generation for lottos.
“Blockchain as a technology is certainly getting a lot of attention lately, but we’re looking at it from different ways,” he said. “It works for what we’re trying to achieve right now in our [Innovation Outpost] as it relates to some of the functionality we want to achieve on our beta site. It helps us develop things like a wallet where people can transact, and also a random number generation tool [for lotteries], so the technology itself actually helps us right now with specific deliverables.”
“But we’re also looking at it from a bigger perspective of how it could possibly impact the lottery business as a whole and then we’ll figure out how we participate at that level as well.”
Blockchain, made popular by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is the underlying technology of digital currencies that ensures data can’t be changed, allowing more transparency and security.
Davison says some in the lottery space are already studying the possible impact of blockchain on the industry at large. But he’s not sure if any other regulated lotteries are actively trying to integrate the technology into their operations.
For Atlantic Lottery, using blockchain could not only make gameplay and transactions more transparent and secure for players. It could also save the company time and money by eliminating the need for a third party to manage transactions.
The global hype around blockchain, even as cryptocurrencies rise and fall, is because of its potential to allow transactions to take place transparently and securely without middlemen or central authorities.
“It’s a huge investment and a huge amount of time to build out the right systems with the right partners to have a proper random number generation, to have a proper [digital] wallet. The benefit of blockchain is it could simplify that process based on [the distributed ledger’s data],” Davison said.
“It’s just more cost efficient if we’re able to develop functionality in a quick and more timely manner than let a third party achieve our objectives.”
The company is using blockchain internally and for a small audience on the test site. It’s still in discussions on who it could partner with for this product.
But the Innovation Outpost and the innovation team in Moncton continue to look at creating relevant content, games and new ways for the business to operate.
One of the products the Outpost is working on is Winvelope, a monthly home delivery of scratch tickets. Davison said using artificial intelligence in the system allows Atlantic Lottery to reduce the manpower it would otherwise need to run Winvelope.
“So we built the artificial intelligence in that, and we built blockchain into some other products, some arcades,” said Davison. “So, any technology that helps us be more effective or achieve better results, we’re gonna look at that technology.
“Right now we have a number of products in the MVP stage and some of them in the beta form, and they’re being tested, but we haven’t commercialized them to the point of revenue generation.”
The Innovation Outpost is located at Volta Labs in Halifax. It was established in the summer of 2016 to allow quick prototyping of innovative lottery- and gaming-related products, while embedded in the startup community. Last year, Atlantic Lottery said it will extend the outpost’s operation by two more years.
Davison said the outpost has created a culture change in the company. Atlantic Lottery has seen success in the program and plans to grow it.
“It’s done a number of things to the company. It helps to create a culture change within our organization, getting the organization as a whole thinking innovatively,” he said.