Sulim Malook is no stranger to the world of lotteries. Before running one of the largest lottery sites, used by people in over 180 countries, he was a bond trader who went on to build a stock market lottery app which was later acquired by a Latin American lottery operator.
But Sulim has now shifted the world of lotteries up a gear, by making it available in bitcoin. In doing so, he has made lottery safer, more secure, meaning fears of losing lottery tickets are a thing of the past.
Lotto is played entirely online using bitcoin rather than traditional currencies and the jackpots are typically much larger than most national lotteries. There are some lotteries that allow players to buy tickets on a website, and there are others which allow players to deposit digital currency, but then convert it to a local currency in order to play. Neither of these are models are truly digital.
Sulim, what are the benefits of a digital lottery?
“For us, the key element is allowing people to play using digital currency, which is a much better way to play. It allows transactions to be carried out more efficiently and at a lower cost than using traditional currencies through banks and card providers.”
You also offer lottery pools, what are they?
“A lottery pool is simply a group of people who play the lottery together. They each buy a ticket, and pool them (hence the name). If any of the tickets wins anything, those winnings are shared amongst everyone in the pool. The principle is that the more tickets in the pool, the better chance you have of winning, and although you have to share any prize money, it’s better to win something than nothing at all.
Pools have traditionally been organised around work groups or friendship groups. We’ve completely automated the whole idea of a lottery pool online, so the people in the pool don’t have to do anything. No tickets to buy, or lose, and no disputes. Their winnings are just credited to their account automatically.”
How do Lucky Gift Cards work?
“As the name suggests, they are a gift card which provides lifetime membership of a lottery pool that plays 6aus49 lottery on Crypto Millions Lotto twice a week. It’s completely automated. Once the Lucky Gift Card owner has registered on the website, there’s nothing to do. They just sit back, and the pool plays for them. All prize money is distributed amongst the pool in proportion to the value of pool member’s ownership. Lucky Gift Cards can be gifted to friends or loved ones in any denomination. Like Crypto Millions Lotto, all winnings are paid in bitcoin.”
Are lotteries now regulated markets? Can people from anywhere in the world take part in other countries’ lotteries?
“Lotteries are regulated in many countries to the extent that they are mainly operated on behalf of governments and they are subject to the specific laws of the land. In many countries people can’t enter a lottery unless they are resident in that country. But that doesn’t prevent anyone from playing a game based on the numbers of any lottery globally as long as no local laws are breached. That’s what we do at Crypto Millions Lotto. People from more than 180 countries around the world can play.”
Are lotteries a form of gambling?
“The short answer is “yes”, lotteries are gambling. However, Lucky Gift Cards are not. Let me try and explain by defining gambling. Gambling is the wagering of money on something that has an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money. Buying and gifting Lucky Gift Cards or winning bitcoin from a lottery pool is not gambling since recipients aren’t placing bets, picking numbers or collecting winnings. The pool is doing all this. As you would expect, we’ve sought extensive legal opinion and I’m pleased to say the lawyers agree with us in that Lucky Gift Cards do not breach any gambling laws.”
You mentioned in the past that you are committed to bitcoin alone, why is that?
“This is a deliberate decision. We’ve looked at all the options, the most obvious one being Ethereum. In our view, Ethereum has some performance issues that make it unsuitable for the kind of thing we’re doing. First, it’s slow, but it’s also expensive to process and we believe it’s facing issues with scaling. So, you’re right, we are totally committed to bitcoin, as it is considered by most of the world the de facto cryptocurrency.”
As bitcoin now accounts for only 46% of total crypto market value, when it was 70% at the start of the year, and Ethereum now making up 15% of the overall market capitalization for crypto, how do you think this will change the industry and the projects being developed?
“Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the total amount in circulation by the value of one bitcoin. Bitcoin’s price is heavily based upon sentiment, and market news. Although you’re right that bitcoin makes up 46% of the total crypto market value, the majority of headline stories in the market are about bitcoin. Stories about institutional investment and the growing number of people who treat crypto as a payment option, are all about bitcoin. You barely hear other cryptocurrencies mentioned. We don’t think this is going to change any time soon. So, we don’t think that market value is a good indicator. We take our lead from the financial press who talk about bitcoin as a barometer for crypto prices. They rarely mention any other currencies such as Ethereum.”
How do you see the future of lotteries?
“Up to now, the classic model has been one of lotteries owned by the state, which are licensed to an operator who runs it for a fixed term. Typically, people will buy tickets to play that lottery from a nationwide network of small retailers like newsagents and corner shops.
There are several problems with that model. The first and most obvious one is that in many countries, those small retailers have all been closed for most of the last year. The operators have been working hard to try to get the lottery sales online. But you can see that there would be some resistance to that from the retailers, who rely on lottery sales to attract people into their stores.
The second problem is that a state-run lottery is only available to the people who live in that country. So, the trend we see is a move to a proper online lottery, where people can play the lottery without leaving the house, and where people can play more than just their own national lottery. “
So add a digital component to lotteries and you introduce efficiency, scale and ease of play, with organisations like Sulim’s at the very forefront. These organisations are best placed to deliver this model, with people like Sulim who were born digital and are not held back by a legacy model.