I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jackie Walker, Director of Lottery Business Development at SCA Promotions. With over 30 years at SCA, and experience in various industries, sitting down with Jackie brought thought-provoking insight into her field.
Kathryn: Can you tell me a bit about your role with SCA?
Jackie: Currently, I have two roles. The first is account manager on my business that I’ve developed over the past 30 years, which is primarily consumer brands and marketing agencies. About four years ago, I started in a new role as director of business development of our lottery solutions division. That involves working in the lottery space with our North American state and provincial lotteries as well as some of their specialty vendors that provide gaming systems and instant tickets. Currently, there are 45 states that have lotteries.
K: How did you become involved in the lottery industry?
J: It was a bit by chance that I fielded a call from the Texas Lottery, inquiring about underwriting their financial risk and exposure associated with their retailer bonus incentive program. They offer a bonus to any licensed Texas retailer (among other bonuses that they cover) who sells a winning Mega Millions or Powerball Jackpot ticket. That bonus is equal to 1% of the jackpot, capped at $1 million. And with today’s BIG jackpots it’s basically always a $1 million bonus. Between Mega Millions and Powerball, you have a combined 260 draws every year, which presents Texas with a big liability when they’re promising retailers such a big bonus. They were looking to offload their risk and manage their budget associated with that specific bonus. While SCA had been involved in the industry, that call pulled me in, and I realized there was a huge opportunity to bring SCA’s services to this industry. And when you’ve been with the same company for 30 years, you jump at the opportunity to learn something new and challenge yourself.
K: I’ve heard about the retail rebate with the Texas Lottery, was there a recent payout?
J: Yes, we recently paid them for the second time since working with them. We’ve been working with the Texas Lottery since 2019, so we’re going into our fifth year. The first year, within two weeks of our first contract, a retailer sold a Mega Millions jackpot-winning ticket, so we paid $1 million then. And just about a month ago, it happened again. The thing that sets us apart is our quick claim payment. Our clients appreciate the fact that SCA can verify a claim and issue payment in under a week. You won’t find that in traditional insurance.
What gives us the ability to pay quickly is a well-defined trigger event. We don’t have to ask questions like “did it really happen?”
K: What do you enjoy most about the lottery side of your work?
J: Number one, I really enjoy learning a new industry, diving deep into discussions with those that have been in lottery for a long time. Understanding where their pain points are and what their challenges are with budgets and expenses allows me to use my problem solving and communication skills. It takes working with our leadership and actuarial team to come up with a solution for the client that is a win-win. It’s definitely the problem-solving aspect of the job that I really enjoy.
K: With so much of your role being problem solving, what would you say are some of the biggest problems you face in this industry?
J: The biggest challenge for me is getting my clients to communicate their pain points and objectives. It’s typical for someone to want to keep information close to their chest. My job is to continue to have good dialogue, so they understand we want to be a partner.
K: Would you say it’s important to build client relationships and trust, and to try to keep the same clients around?
J: Yes, 100%. And that’s one of the things I love most about working in the lottery industry. It’s a very niche industry, and a close group. Given that for the most part state lotteries do not compete with each other there is a lot of idea sharing and collaboration. I’ve definitely noticed, after going to almost every conference and trade show over the past five years, people are warmer and more receptive. It truly is about building relationships and trust.
K: What major changes have you noticed in your field over the years?
J: The pandemic took a toll on a good chunk of our event, sports and promotions business as a whole. That was about the time started focusing on lottery. On the flip side to most businesses, lottery saw a huge uptick in sales and engagement. They were the only entertainment allowed during covid– casinos had closed, travel had almost ceased, but gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery markets stayed open. Those are the major retailers for lottery scratch cards and draw games, so it was a huge growth period for lotteries. Today, with everything back open, lotteries are facing a growing challenge to compete for the entertainment dollar. It’s an opportunity for SCA to help them to leverage their budget and marketing spend to create more engagement and awareness among lottery consumers.
K: What do you like about working with the SCA team?
J: Our executive team has fostered an environment where we are encouraged to think critically and pursue industries and markets that we find of interest and that has given me the flexibility to focus on lottery. That is a credit to our leadership that we have here, and I’m definitely thankful for that.
K: In regard to your career, what are you looking forward to in the future?
J: Hopefully continuing to have productive discussions with my clients and being a valuable resource for them. It’s now very rewarding when I get calls from clients I talked to years ago, who are now asking for our solutions. That’s where I want to be.
K: So, in your free time what are you doing?
J: Like a lot of people, I’ve gotten in to playing pickleball. It’s so fun and great way to get some exercise without being in a gym.
K: Are you a reader? What’s currently on your nightstand?
J: I started reading ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’. The author reflects on the history of modern homosapiens, and shows evidence of how our beliefs and communities have evolved over a relatively short period of time. It forces the perspective that humankind is in its infancy of evolution, which I find inspiring and positive. With all the turmoil in the world today it’s comforting to me that nothing is set in stone. Our future is still unwritten.