Atlantic Lottery hits 15 years of responsible online gaming
Back in 2004 – when terms like social media and podcast had only started to appear – the internet was just beginning to play a bigger part in our world.
But not at Atlantic Lottery, which became the first lottery in North America to sell products online in August 2004. Named PlaySphere, the web portal allowed Atlantic Canadians to play all their favourite lottery games online for the first time.
Joey Cormier, the director of the iGaming division, says the launch of PlaySphere was a natural move for Atlantic Lottery, bringing a responsible and regulated gambling option to the emerging online world.
“We knew the internet was only going to become a bigger part of everyone’s lives, so we had to be a part of that,” he says. “It’s always our goal to give our players what they want and to be where they expect us to be, so there’s a lot of pride in knowing that we were the first lottery to be online.”
Fast forward 15 years and Atlantic Lottery remains the only regulated internet gambling operator in Atlantic Canada. PlaySphere has been renamed alc.ca, where more Atlantic Canadians than ever are buying and checking tickets for an ever-growing selection of games. PlaySphere started out with lottery draw games and sports betting, then added bingo and interactive games in 2007. Taking advantage of new technology and responding to players’ desire for more interactive games, digital instants were added to the mix in 2017.
Today, online play is an important and growing part of Atlantic Lottery’s operations. There are 98,000 Atlantic Canadians who play online with us and online sales continue to rise every year, making alc.ca a key contributor to the profits we return to Atlantic Canadians.
At the same time, the number of responsible gambling (RG) features on alc.ca has also continued to grow. Right from the start, PlaySphere featured many RG measures to help players keep their online activities responsible and fun. Today, Atlantic Lottery offers an array of world-class RG tools and programs, which recently earned WLA Level 4 re-certification – the highest standard of RG certification in the world.
“Although being online is essential, it’s just as important to make sure you balance that convenience with player protection,” Cormier says. “It’s a vital part of our mandate as a corporation to give players access to information, tools and support that help keep their play responsible.”
While a lot has changed in the 15 years since Atlantic Lottery became the first lottery in North America to sell products online, the old PlaySphere “Need a ticket? Just click it!” slogan is just as true today as it was in 2004. The goal remains the same: to offer players a convenient and secure option to find the lottery products they want, where they want them.
Despite the rise of online lottery sales, bricks and mortar retailers have remained an essential part of Atlantic Lottery’s operations. Cormier says this omnichannel approach has been the key to building relationships with retailers and players alike.
“The bottom line is, are we giving our players what they want? That’s what they expect from us and we always hope we meet – or exceed – their expectations.”