Online lottery Playwin in expansion mode

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Mumbai, Aug 24: The country's leading online gaming company Playwin is gearing itself as the Rs 25,000 crore regulated industry is witnessing a perceptible consumer shift from paper lottery to the online version.

Since its launch in 2002, the company has attracted the lower-income group to its online game. The segment now makes up 80 per cent of its customers. But success still eludes the company in attracting its primary target group -- the A and B class income group capable of generating huge revenues, and who could give the game more publicity and legitimacy. ''The middle-class is also the segment that aspires for better things. They have a wider perspective of life and lifestyle and also want it for themselves,'' Arun Sinha, chief executive officer and managing director, Pan India Network Infravest, which owns the brand told the sources.

''The main problem with the middle and upper-middle class has been lack of exposure and facilities. The ambience of the existing outlets frequented by the lower-income group is also not conducive for many of our target groups,'' he said.

To mobilize the dormant market, Playwin has plans to open a host of exclusive outlets in the large metros to offer their 'Lotto' and 'Jackpot' games. It will also promote its online gaming site, which already has 2,50,000 registered users and an annual turnover of Rs 25 crore.

The company's strategy to market the game as a lifestyle and entertainment activity among the elite, since its launch in 2002, now shows signs of bearing fruits.

''Gaming is becoming a regular activity among white collared workers as they discover how safe and transparent the whole game is. We also offer the flexibility of letting the customer choose their numbers,'' Mr Sinha explained.

A 20,000 sq ft casino in Goa is on the cards, which would not only attract the domestic customers but the well-heeled international players from their usual haunts of Macau, Thailand and Nepal. The company wants the A and B class to perceive the game more as an entertainment, and less as gambling.

To consolidate itself among existing consumer base, which earn the Playwin Rs 3,000 crores, the company will increase its number of outlets from its current strength of 12,000.

Mr Sinha said, ''Focus will be on the small towns and we'll try to have as many outlets as possible close to the customers. You can't expect a person who buys a ticket for Rs 10 to be motivated to spend much on conveyence to reach the outlets.'' At least 1,000 new outlets are planned for West Bengal, the Northeast markets to support the company's expansion in Maharashtra and Goa regions.

''We have held discussions with the state authorities and will soon have outlets in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim using VSAT connections,'' Mr Sinha confirmed. He said the northeastern states can make good use of the revenues generated by online gaming to build infrastructure and generate employment.

Looking into the future, Mr Sinha said that though prospects were bright with the Home Ministry giving serious consideration to the needs of the industry and its revenue and employment generating capacity. ''The whole industry, including the illegal gambling business, is worth Rs 50,000 crore and earns the government around Rs 4000 crore annually. The online gaming itself employs a million people directly and in allied industries like computers, spare parts businesses. What we need to fight is the illegal betting and matka.

It is spoiling the reputation of the industry and promotes irresponsible and addictive gambling.'' The Playwin CEO also envisioned the industry gaining legitimacy and acceptance in the public eye. He said, ''The global gaming industry, worth USD 200 billion has contributed to the socio-economic development of society with schools, hospitals, old age homes and sports being promoted by gaming companies around the world.'' Playwin has also made it a policy to share its revenue for the benefit of society, he added.

The company has produced 64 crorepatis and more than 2,800 lakhpatis in six years.

UNI

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