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Kevin Smith

Is That a Lottery in Your Pocket?

20 August 2003

Ten years ago John Bentley thought he had just the next biggest thing for the gaming market.

He and his partners had developed a credit card-sized interactive pocket-game product that could be used in conjunction with marketing campaigns for lotteries, charitable groups and direct mail.

Bentley, along with Gordon McNally, who designed the card, demoed it for Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn. The hotel and resort developer liked what he saw, but there was only one problem.

"The cost to make them back then was about 10 times what it is now," said Bentley. "Wynn loved it but it was just too pricey to implement it on a large scale."

The old adage of being a man ahead of his time rang true, but the project was dusted off, improved and re-circulated in the gaming industry a year-and-a-half ago, and the response has been amazing.

The card idea was manifested into Electronic Game Card Inc. (of which Bentley is president), and the group capped off a summer of partnership agreements by inking a deal with Scientific Games International, a leading provider to the lottery industry.

As part of the five-year deal, Scientific Games will be the worldwide distributor of the EGC card, opening the door to the majority of the 40 U.S.-based lotteries as well as another 100 around the world.

The Scientific Games announcement follows an agreement with EGC and the Las Vegas Hilton, part of the Park Investment Group of Casinos. The Hilton was the first casino in the world to utilize the EGC card in a sales promotion in June.

EGC also signed an exclusive distribution deal with privately owned, California-based Clegg Industries, Inc., a leader in the microchip light and sound products for the direct mail and sales promotion markets, through which Clegg will spearhead EGC's drive into the United States in this $100 million global market sector.

The Scientific Games agreement, Bentley said, is probably the most important deal to date.

"We see several distinct global, multi-billion dollar markets for our unique products where we can optimize our proprietary technology and extensive development to date," he said. "The relationship with Scientific Games, with their extensive global infrastructure and sales network, allows EGC to open up the $140 billion lotteries market, including the United States, efficiently and rapidly."

Entering additional markets, namely the self-promotion sector, has been a bigger challenge.

"We did the deal with Hilton, but there really isn't a dominant player in the self-promotion industry in the U.S. like there is in the lottery arena," he said. Bentley stressed that the EGC product doesn't compete with Internet gaming operations. To the contrary, he predicts his product will be used in the future in conjunction with online gaming operations.

"The Internet isn't an instant thing," he said. "You have to boot up your computer, log on to a site and do all this other stuff. There is a market for our product out on the Internet. It is something customers can turn to when they aren't near a computer or want that instant gratification. It is a bit like a pocket slot if you think about it."

Steve Saferin, senior vice president of Scientific Games, feels that EGC's product line will be an easy sell for lotteries in search of new ways to distribute their products.

"EGC's product portfolio represents a significant step forward for those operators faced with the dual challenge of wanting to refresh old formulas or introduce higher ticket games, especially to attract new and younger players," Saferin said. "We are confident that Electronic Game Card products and technology will rapidly become the only choice for lottery operations seeking to introduce digital instants cards."

Bentley said the partnership with Scientific Games and the favorable response to the EGC product line over the last year has accelerated plans within management to float the company on a public stock exchange.

Although Bentley's product was initially ahead of its time, his persistence and dedication could change the way lotteries and other sectors of the gaming industry are promoted and marketed.

Is That a Lottery in Your Pocket? is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith