With sales of over 3500 tickets every minute, rising business volumes and a vast network, NLB is soaring to new heights.
The National Lotteries Board (NLB) – under the stewardship of the Board of Directors led by its Chairperson Shyamila Perera – is hoping for a record performance. The NLB anticipates annual revenues of Rs.21 billion this year, & if they succeed will be the highest in Sri Lanka’s lottery history.
Ms. Perera said that if everything goes well, they expect to reach this target by December. She noted that getting there will involve constant sales activity. “Ours is a 24x7 operation, with over 3500 tickets sold every minute and four lotteries drawn every day,” she said. The figure for the whole of 2017 was Rs. 16.7 billion and Rs.20.1 billion the year before.
With nine lotteries in its portfolio and high prize structures, NLB is looking towards increasing business volumes. And in the process, they are producing many multi millionaires. In fact, during the last four years, they have produced 160 multi millionaires .
The recently launched Dhana Nidhanaya offers Sri Lanka’s largest starting super prize – Rs.80 million. Mega Power has seen its starting super prize of Rs. 50 million soar to over Rs. 150 milliontoday. And the Govisetha super prize, which started at Rs. 60 million, is now worth above Rs.100 million. In fact, NLB produced a record 13 multi millionaires during the first five months of this year. In the same period, there were more than 70 million winners overall, and they won over 3.8 billion worth of cash prizes.
According to Ms. Perera, every day, on average, there are over 550,000 winners; they collectively win more than Rs. 25 million. The revenue earnings by NLB per day is around Rs. 600 million on average.
NLB is among the highest contributors of revenue to the state coffers. In fact, they contributed over Rs. 960 million to the government during the first five months of this year alone. And for the four years from 2014 to 2017, they contributed Rs. 8.4 billion to the government.
NLB has seen impressive growth since the new administration took over and Ms. Perera as the Chairperson in early 2015. In 2015, NLB recorded a profit of Rs. 241 million. A recovery from an Rs.8mn loss in the previous year. In three years since, they achieved a profit of nearly Rs. 414 million. Revenue, which stood at Rs. 17.1 billion in 2015, achieved Rs. 20.1 bn revenue in 2016 and is expected to exceed Rs.20 billion this year.
“We are a state-owned business organization assigned with generating funds for the government,” says Ms. Perera, “Our intention is to be the model business organization in the government sector.”
She believes that NLB can achieve even greater success if they weren’t hampered by the various government procedures and regulations state-owned entities are subjected to. She says that having to comply with administrative circulars and other forms of red tape that limits efficiency.
“We understand and believe in the need for transparency, for a system of checks and balances and all that, but these regulations can be time consuming and quite stifling,” Ms. Perera points out. She notes, for instance, that they require the approval of designated authorities for recruitment, this results in undue delays. “Such things keep us from being the robust, dynamic organization we would like to be,” she adds.
She hopes the government will alter such restrictions that limit their ability to function as a business-oriented organization. “We need more flexibility, for example, to restructure the workforce for greater productivity,” she says.
Ms. Perera has made representations to the higher authorities, including the minister in charge, and is optimistic that things will change. She is confident that this will enable NLB to reveal its true potential. Even at present, the NLB, with just 400 employees, contributes far more to government revenue than most of other state-owned entities with workforces many times that size and in Grade A category but dependent on the treasury. .
NLB can draw on its long heritage and experience to reach even higher. In fact, they have the pioneering lottery brand – Mahajana Sampatha – which was launched in 1970. In 2016, NLB underwent a significant transformation with a new corporate identity and logo. Today, with a market share of 55-60% of total tickets sold, it is the largest lottery organization in Sri Lanka.
At present, NLB has 400 employees and a vast network of 12,500 ticket sellers, 2800 agents and 108 district dealers covering all regions. It has expanded its presence in the north and east. Currently, 2-3% of NLB’s revenue comes from these areas, and higher growth is anticipated in the future. In fact, the Jaffna District has consistently exceeded their sales targets.
NLB is also engaged in corporate social responsibility. Through their dedicated CSR brand Neeroga they have, since July 2015, contributed Rs.137 million to the National Kidney Fund. With a CSR budget of nearly Rs.100 million annually, they are also involved in various sponsorships and other initiatives such as constructing water purification plants.
As part of a new initiative to go digital, NLB recently introduced an SMS-based system, which has so far attracted over 20,000 active users. Ms. Perera said they are now in the process of discussing proposals by app developers and other digital solution providers to introduce Web and smartphone-based systems as well. She however stated that they have to take into account the concerns of their stake holders the sales net work who fear their livelihoods will be affected. “I think it’s best to get them directly involved in such initiatives by offering them incentives and user-friendly apps and awareness to conduct business,” she added.