Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Lottery betting businesses form a new association

Mark Fletcher on July 23, 2018 5:59 AM

As reported last week at CalvinAyre.com, lottery being sites have formed a new trade association to educate (lobby) regulators. This is an interesting move. Here is the report in full. It is important lottery retailers read this to understand that the fight will continue.

Online lottery betting operators have formed a new umbrella group to defend their business model from overzealous gaming regulators and protectionist lottery monopolies.

The European Lotto Betting Association (ELBA) is a new trade body comprised of LottolandMultilottomyLotto24Lottogo and Legacy8. ELBA spokesperson Lena Patel, myLotto24’s head of corporate affairs, told iGaming Business that the new body’s stated goal is to “dispel myths” about the lottery betting business.

Lottery betting operators are under fire in multiple markets, having been banned outright in Australialast month, while the UK has imposed new restrictions on operators’ ability to offer betting markets on non-UK EuroMillions lottery draws.

Patel noted that the “general tone and language about lottery betting in the media is negative,” despite the ELBA’s view that a lot of this talk “has not been backed up by evidence.” Patel said the “collective voice of the industry hasn’t been strong enough” and the ELBA aimed to inform the public that lottery betting operators are “legitimate” and “we do give back to good causes.”

The ELBA is currently drafting a code of conduct for existing and future members that will “provide definite levels of standards to make sure we’re in line with each other.” This code is expected to be released any day now.

Patel told eGaming Review that the ELBA wanted to “foster a closer working relationship with regulators” to ensure “coherent, strong, sustainable and fair” oversight of the lottery betting sector that doesn’t “unfairly penalize millions of customers who want to take part in lottery betting.”

For the time being, Patel says the ELBA is focusing its efforts on improving lottery betting’s image with European regulators, specifically those markets where “regulation is changing” and “parties with vested interests” are baying for lottery betting operators to be dragged to the woodshed.

The ELBA isn’t the first lottery betting group to attempt to fend off disaster. The Lotto Betting Group, whose ranks include Lottoland and Multilotto, has battled the UK government over its lottery betting restrictions.

Lottery retailers will have to choose who they support. If it is the regulator pure lottery games, then they will need to support ALNA to continue to lobby and work on their behalf as ALNA, like any association, can only be as strong as its members support it to be.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Ethics · Lotteries

Marketing tip: visual merchandising for stationery

Mark Fletcher on July 22, 2018 7:16 AM

The best way for people to see your business and what you sell in a different light is to show them through your visual merchandising. Here are four inspiring examples from the many I saw last week.

You can choose to display products like a shopkeeper or a retailer. These examples are from retailers. They pitch a different, more engaged, more inspiring narrative than you would see from a shopkeeper.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · marketing · marketing tip · newsagency of the future

The story of Lush underpaying staff is a reminder

Mark Fletcher on July 21, 2018 6:55 AM

The news this week of Such underpaying staff in their retail business going back to 2010 is a reminder of the importance of checking and cross checking payroll calculations and processes. Before the Lush story there were the reports abut the Rockpool payroll and entitlements issues and there in hospitality. Prior to that it was 7-Eleven.

My suggestion is that you get someone from outside the business who is not involved in managing your payroll or staff entitlement record keeping to do an audit of your calculations and your processes.

It would be better for you to find and resolve the issues than a regulator to force this on you as a result of a formal complaint.

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Inspiring words from a newsagent talking about transformation

Mark Fletcher on July 20, 2018 6:11 AM

A newsagent recently shared with me a story about their experience talking at a local service club about their business. Here is the story, if their own words. At their request I am not identifying them or their business. This is inspiring…

Last night I was the keynote speaker at a service club in our regional city. I was asked to speak on my business as a “Newsagent”

I took them through a journey of the history of the newspapers in our state, their rise and the demise of some.

I took them through the journey of the family “newsagency” as it was, newspaper boys, home delivery, mail runs and retail store. I spoke deeply of the work involved behind the scenes of a distribution/retail “Newsagency”

I took them through the journey of the demise of delivery rounds, the amalgamation of rounds and the reasons for closures of some smaller “Newsagencies” in small towns.

I spoke of the distribution Newsagents who cover great territories and how these are the backbone now of paper deliveries in capital cities and large regional areas.

I spoke of the advent of supermarkets and service stations entering the retailing of magazines and newspapers.

I emphasised how “Newsagencies” large or small are still a core business in most cities and towns and this will never change but the structure of “Newsagencies” are changing to meet a  changing social world and shopping trends so you will see “Newsagencies” with a different look.

They were amazed when I talked about the massive number of magazine put aways we have. Over half of these titles never hit the shelves as they are of specialised interest to the customer and the topic range is immense. The modern “Newsagency” are magazine specialists in this way.

The point I want to make now:

From the questions I was asked and in general conversation afterwards people were amazed at what a “Newsageny” was all about and they were now putting our business in a different light and I just felt a rising respect for our core industry. I could feel this overwhelming respect for “Newsagencies” as a business coming through.

It was an eye opener to me how the business of a “Newsagency” was perceived in general even though we are a progressive store.

We somehow have to break the old Newsagency image shingle.

I am inspired more than ever to move forward in a changing world.

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→ 6 CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future

Talk about covering up page one of the newspaper

Mark Fletcher on July 20, 2018 3:54 AM

Besides the masthead coverup of Phoenix Republic with a post-it note type stuck on subscription ad, there is the wrap around ad for hearing aids and a printed pitch promoting $109 in coupon value that partially obscures the actual masthead. I guess with one main newspaper in town you know the product.

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Midtown Comics’ success with magazines

Mark Fletcher on July 19, 2018 4:44 AM

Midtown Comics is the destination comic business in New York. Each location is well laid out, with magazines the core offer. There are things they do that we could do even in our non special interest focussed magazine businesses. Here are photos from their store on Fulton Street, in the Financial District, where the common shopper is male, mid 30s to 40s and working in finance.

Their magazine wall is stunning. This photo captures less than half of it.

Note their magazine staff pick pitch. This is just like the card pitch I mentioned at the weekend.

I like that they show what is new this week, last week and two weeks earlier.

Their old issue collectors stock is tidy and well laid out.

They list release dates for plenty of titles.

The pitch to the counter is terrific and organ used, with impulse lines placed appropriately.

Their customer service is excellent with one person always on the shop floor answering questions but not getting in the way of the many who visit too browse and read.

Each time I visit a Midtown Comics I am impressed with the passion of the people working there, the layout of the shop and the overall focus of the specialty retail business. Every visit offers useful takeaways.

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Lottoland’s 30% off Pitch

Mark Fletcher on July 19, 2018 1:15 AM

Sent by email late yesterday…

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→ 17 CommentsCategory: Competition · Ethics · Lotteries · Social responsibility

Fairfax and News Corp. to share printing networks in NSW & QLD

Mark Fletcher on July 18, 2018 1:36 PM

Fairfax today announced to newsagents today plans for Fairfax and News Corp. to share their printing networks in NSW & QLD:

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→ 5 CommentsCategory: Newspaper distribution · Newspapers

2019 calendars on sale, and selling

Mark Fletcher on July 18, 2018 6:48 AM

In the US this week I have seen plenty of shops with 2019 calendars on display. Staff tell me they are selling, that people are seeking them out. I have seen them in stationery as well as card and gift shops. The range is usually close to two metres wide and at least a metre high. They have fashion calendars as well as the functional including the family and business planner formats.

One store owner told me that July 1 is their kick-off date for calendars. They said being the start of the last half of the year it made sense that it is the kick-off. When you think of it like that it does.

The challenge in Australia is our retail business overheads are considerably higher. This means we need a faster turn of stock per square metre, thereby meaning we have less capacity for a slow burn for more than six months with calendars.

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New York newspaper front covers on a day of political intrigue

Mark Fletcher on July 18, 2018 3:28 AM

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Is it Snickers or a mood? … it doesn’t matter

Mark Fletcher on July 17, 2018 6:40 AM

Mars is embracing temporary re-naming os Snickers like plenty of other food companies to give shoppers an additional reason to purchase. A Snickers bar labelled as a chocolate bar called Absurd turns the Snickers into a fun gift for someone, thereby expanding the reach of their product.

This is a smart marketing move, not trail-blazing, but certainly smart. Retailers have the promotional product at the counter for impulse purchase.

In our own patch, we have seen Smiggle, Typo and others follow a similar model of getting people to buy more of an item than they would by focussing on product design over function.

The more reasons there can be to purchase an item the better. Emotional reasons are the best as they are more likely to drive impulse purchases.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: confectionary · marketing

A fun card pitch broadens the appeal of the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on July 17, 2018 6:15 AM

I have been playing with video software and made this video a few days ago to promote cards and newsXpress businesses as part of my mucking around. The reaction on social media has been terrific. It is the type of post that lends itself to people tagging friends, which extends the reach of the video and the brand it promotes.


I ran this on a few Facebook pages and in each case is resulted in terrific engagement as well as in-store mentions.

With social media content being disposable, I am not overthinking content and always look for easy to create, quick to understand and fun content. Regular fresh new content is the key here.

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→ 5 CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards

81% discount for magazine subscribers

Mark Fletcher on July 17, 2018 5:40 AM

Reader’s Digest has an offer in the US t the moment pitching subscriptions at 81% off the cover price.

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Not buying from a rep. in-store can be a smart move

Mark Fletcher on July 16, 2018 6:04 AM

Each time a sale rep. steps into your shop to sell you products there is a sales target they need to meet to justify their time. Depending on your location, the sales target cold be for the town or region. This can see their products in competitor stores.

Buying from a business that does not have reps could feed into a point of difference for your shop. It all depends on how the supplier manages retail partner locations.

In my experience, businesses without sales reps tend to have better systems to leverage office based sales. This can see them better manage retail location data, thereby ensuing better local retailer borders.

Buying from a head office online or over the phone costs the supplier business less. If they are smart this is reflected in their pricing.

In another retail channel of which I have knowledge, a mid-size supplier cut all ten of their sales reps, saving the business $1.2M a year in wages, vehicle and on-costs. They invested close to this in the first year in enhanced back office facilities to enable online ordering and stock management. Today, three years on, their customers benefit from the savings through lower prices and this, in turn, is fuelling revenue growth.

While I know many newsagents respect and appreciate the personal contact with sales reps in-store, the costs today are such that the model for many suppliers is not appropriate. We as a channel need to expect fewer reps and to see businesses moving to that model and doing so in a way that can benefit us.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

This one easy idea could boost your card sales

Mark Fletcher on July 15, 2018 6:21 AM

Pitching staff favourite cards at the counter is easy and it boosts sales. It is also personal, providing customers with an insight into the cards your team members love. I recommend every card retailer try this.

Here is how we pitch this at one of my stores, at the counter:

The capex is minimal as you can see from the photo. Keeping the pitch simple is  important. Let the cards speak for themselves.

I know of one store that started this a year ago and now they keep stock of cards behind the counter to assist fulfilment.

My suggestion is to not manage staff card selection in any way. This ensures you have a broad mix of cards on offer. This is key. Also, have there cards changed weekly as well as the location of each team member in the line-up.

Cards are important in our businesses. They offer excellent margin. We need to leverage every opportunity possible to get people purchasing more cards. On impulse is critical as this is where the card collector, the person who buys a card because they like it rather than to serve a specific near-term need, is good.

At the counter as I write about here, at the exit to the shop and at other high traffic locations – we need to pitch cards to grow our sales and to get more people engaged with the category. This latter point is important as the more people buy and use cards the better for all of us. We can grow engagement by showing off cards people have not entered our shops intending to purchase.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards · marketing · marketing tip · Newsagency management

Rare in the US – a newsagent

Mark Fletcher on July 14, 2018 11:59 AM

I stumbled across this business while out and about in Atlanta today. I can’t ever rem ember seeing a business with newsagent as its shingle here.

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Slime keeps on selling

Mark Fletcher on July 14, 2018 6:06 AM

Slime has been hot for almost two years. This past school holidays it has again been a top seller, easily purchased at the counter on impulse.

Slime is popular on social media, pulling good engagement and helping draw attention to retailers pitching it.

Best of all, slime is a terrific interactive product that can bring the noise of fun and laughter to the shop, which can lift the business and drive shopper engagement.

We have featured a range of slime products since last year and there is no feeling we will pull back from this at the moment.

What is interesting is that slime sells to a diverse group of people. For sure the diverse group purchases slime for kids, I get that. I have also seen slime purchased as a gift for a co-worker in an office, by someone as a stress release item and by someone to use in tactile engagement with someone with physical challenges.

I love the diversity of uses as that helps us be diverse in put pitching of the product.

It is good to have slime open at the counter for team members to play with. This, too, will drive sales.

Slime is popular online. The term is popular in search engines. People are searching how to make it, what to do with it and where to buy it.

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→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency marketing · Newsagency opportunities

Talking about overseas trade shows

Mark Fletcher on July 13, 2018 12:31 PM

I am at the Atlanta Gift Fair this week. Thinking about recent comments here about overseas fairs, here is a short video from inside one of the three buildings this fair fully uses in downtown Atlanta. It is made up of permanent space allocation where suppliers have permanent professional showrooms as well as temporaries, which are more traditional (for Australia) trade show booth, for the duration of the trade show.

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An e-commerce workshop newsagents may find interesting

Mark Fletcher on July 13, 2018 6:07 AM

Next month my POS software company is hosting free and open workshops for independent small business retailers on e-commerce and, in particular, POS software connected websites.

I will be at each event and provide insights into how in my own shops we leverage online to attract new shoppers in-store and well as to sell to people we will never meet.

There will be a live look at the websites, an explanation of the POS software connection and a look under the hood at traffic and the work undertaken to get people landing on the sites.

Folks here are most welcome to attend. Here is the announcement notice for the sessions:

FREE POS SOFTWARE WORKSHOP INVITATION

Win new customers and increase revenue with a POS software connected website

Join us for a practical, jargon-free, workshop where we show the value of our Aussie developed and supported POS software and website solutions. See awesome POS software and successful websites for your type of business.

At this free workshop we will…

  • Show how a good website / POS solution can land more shoppers in your physical shop, more than you think, and help you sell 24/7.·
  • Explain how to get to the top Google results, and stay there
  • Show how to use Facebook to drive online and in-store sales. We will share invaluable free social media advice.
  • Talk you through key steps to website success through live examples.
  • Share practical experience on order fulfilment using Australia Post and others and how to handle freight costs.
  • Explain payment options and how to leverage them for more sales.
  • Work through the commercial implications.
  • Explain photos, descriptions and things web experts often miss.·
  • Answer all your questions.

Tower Systems offers solutions for retailers in these channels: giftsjewellersbikestoysfishing/outdoorsgarden centrespet shopsproducefirearms, adult shops and newsagents.

What is interesting at sessions like this is the common ground interests discovered between retailers from different channels. It is a thrill to see this emerge and retailers talk with each other and learn from each other.

I will be at each session. I hope to see you there. Book now, online.

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MyLotto24 closing

Mark Fletcher on July 13, 2018 5:03 AM

MyLotto24 published this note announcing their closure:

Dear Customer,

As you may know, the government recently introduced a total ban on international lottery betting; choosing to protect the interests of the existing lottery monopoly instead of customers and newsagents (who stood to benefit from a brand-new income stream). 

Unfortunately, despite doing everything in our power to be able to continue bringing you greater innovation and access to life-changing winnings, we have had to take the tough decision to leave the Australian market.

I’d like to thank you for your very valued custom and support through our journey.

Our website will be closed down on the 23 of July, which means you will no longer be able to access your accounts or place any bets after this date. If you have an active subscription ticket this will be deactivated for you. We will also refund you for any outstanding draws after this date.

Your funds will be paid out to your saved payment card. If you have not used a payment card to top up your balance, please contact Customer Services so arrangements can be made to refund your account balance.

You can reach our Customer Service agents by email at service@myLotto24.com.au.

Thank you again for your support.

Mikael Sundelin

Managing Director myLotto24 Australia

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→ 12 CommentsCategory: Competition · Lotteries

Is your newsagency bland?

Mark Fletcher on July 12, 2018 6:34 AM

A bland shop is one that meets expectations for the type of business it is, one where expectations are met such that it does not need to be explored.

Whereas years ago, meeting expectations was a goal, in retail today it is not. Today, shops need to be extraordinary, so people do want to explore them. This is a tough challenge for small business retailers, especially those who don’t see themselves as retailers.

Compare the expectation / anticipation of people walking past a newsagency pitching magazines, newspapers and lotteries versus the a newsagency pitching Harry Potter products, Squishies and jigsaws, with no sign of lotteries, magazines or newspapers from the front of the business.

The second business described above is more likely to attract new shoppers than the first. While it may turn away the regular shopper, it equally may not.

The first business described above will only attract the regular shopper and those looking to shop in a traditional newsagency. That is a declining pool of people, being served by a declining network of businesses.

We stand out by buying to stand out, displaying products to stand out, offering services that differentiate and speaking outside our businesses, on social media and elsewhere, in ways that do not connect us with what has been traditional for our type of business.

Years ago, back inn the 1980s and even 1990s, a bland newsagency is what suppliers and others encouraged from our channel as they pursued a one size fits all approach to product mix and store layout. They were aided and abetted by shop-fitters, key suppliers and even accountants and bankers. That focus left too man y businesses in our channel rooted in a world of bland that some find it difficult to break free from today.

Today, a bland business is okay as long as that is your intent, as long as you want to serve the shopper looking for a traditional newsagency from yesteryear. A bland business is not okay if you want new traffic in your business, if you want growth if you want a business that is more saleable.

Seth Godin talks about this in his excellent book Purple Cow. Here is a snapshot of the message he pitches:

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Check your adult magazines

Mark Fletcher on July 11, 2018 2:40 PM

A Queensland newsagent contacted me to say they are set to receive category 1 adult magazines tomorrow, a category they are not permitted to sell. They asked me to mention it here so newsagents check.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: magazines

Advice on signing agreements with suppliers

Mark Fletcher on July 11, 2018 6:11 AM

A newsagent told me recently that a supplier deceptively changed the terms of their agreement by modifying text on one page relating to the term of the agreement. They found out when they asked for a copy of the signed agreement to be sent to them.

While they are certain of the term, the agreement sent to them had a different term, a longer term with penalty for earlier termination.

Situations like this can be avoided if simple processes are followed.

For every agreement you sign in business:

  1. Only sign an agreement with which you are completely happy.
  2. Initial every page of the agreement.
  3. Take a copy of every page and store this in a safe place.
  4. Return the agreement to the supplier for countersigning and ask, in writing, for a copy of the countersigned agreement to be sent to you.
  5. Check the copy of the agreement the supplier returns to you with your own copy. If there is a discrepancy, point it out in writing immediately.

Because of the lack of evidence it could be hard for the newsagent to make a case against the supplier. It would come down to recollection.

I am aware of this happening previously, of a supplier changing an agreement. In one instance, the newsagent did have a copy of what they signed. In that matter, the supplier quickly retreated.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Ethics · Management tip · Newsagency management

Real newspaper home delivery challenges

Mark Fletcher on July 10, 2018 6:07 AM

Not satisfied with getting the daily newspaper delivered to their property for a few cents each day, some customers demand a lever of service for which they do not pay.

Here are several examples of customer service requests I have seen customers make in the last few weeks of home delivery newsagents (not my businesses as as I am retail only):

  1. Hi can you please make sure the newspaper is thrown to land within two metres of the front door? When you throw it on the driveway I have to walk too far across and I am usually in my underwear.
  2. I am happy for the weekday papers to be put on the driveway but for the weekend papers can you throw them over the side fence so I can get them out the back door. Thank you.
  3. Please place the newspaper on the front door mat. I refuse to pay if you do not do this.
  4. When it raise can you please put the paper in the waterproof box I have next to the letter box. It opens with a latch. Please open this put the paper in and close it and double check it is closed. I know you put the paper in plastic. I prefer it in the waterproof box on the wet days.
  5. I am very pleased with the paper delivery service. I would appreciate it however if the weekend papers could be thrown on the concrete drive or before it.
  6. I think the girl who used to deliver er our paper did a better job that the boy we have now.
  7. I keep the plastic you put the newspaper in. l can you come and collect and re use it. If you give me a discount that would be good.
  8. I was away from the shack last weekend and only found out now you missed the Saturday paper. Please credit me for it. Today’s paper came on time.
  9. I am away next week can you deliver my paper to [xxx] at [xxx] it is only four streets away. I told her she could have my paper while I am on holidays. Thank you.

Newspaper home delivery is a thankless task in many areas. Newspaper publishers and many home delivery customers do not realise what the service providers have to put up with.

The list above, from multiple home delivery businesses reflects first world problems.

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→ 11 CommentsCategory: newspaper home delivery

NSW government extends lottery protection for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on July 9, 2018 10:02 AM

Here is a press release from ALNA on today’s announcement:

Lottery protections extended by NSW Government

Protections that prevent lotteries from being sold in large supermarket chains have been extended to 2021 by the NSW Government, to protect consumers and small business.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Australia, 9 July 2018: The Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA), is pleased that today Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro has announced a three-year extension to an agreement with Tabcorp to not open up lottery sales to large supermarket chains.

Adam Joy, CEO of the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA) said, “This is a win for small business and a victory of common sense. Securing the extension of these protections for our members has been an important priority area ALNA has been working diligently on with Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro.

“Minister Barilaro has been a long-time supporter of our industry, and ALNA continues to maintain a productive working relationship with the NSW Government on lotteries and other important legislation and regulatory matters that support our channel. We greatly appreciate his efforts and leadership to deliver what is a really positive extension period, which makes sure newsagents will continue as the primary outlets for the sale of lottery products.

“Lotteries don’t operate in a free market because gambling products aren’t like other products, which is why governments regulate their access to consumers. This is a good thing for consumers and provides safeguards to them and the 1,400 lottery agents who sell lottery tickets in NSW.

“By the NSW Government signing a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with Tabcorp, newsagents can be assured that they will not be competing with large supermarket chains to sell lottery products. This extension follows on from positive news of last month’s amendment to the Interactive Gambling Bill, which will make lotto betting prohibited in Australia by early 2019. We are pleased to have helped bring these assurances to our members.”

Ibram Kamil, General Manager of ALNA NSW, and also a newsagent, commented, “This outcome for newsagents and lottery agents allows us to continue growing and evolving our businesses with certainty and strong support from the NSW Government. I know they are going to really appreciate this.”

On behalf of our NSW members and their staff, the ALNA thanks the NSW Government for its efforts to extend the agreement with Tabcorp to not make lottery sales available to large supermarket chains, to protect NSW consumers and to champion these small businesses. And we encourage them to continue important support for our member small business news and lottery agents.

“The Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association will continue to provide strong advocacy for our members, including to help newsagents receive better deals on the lottery products that they are legally permitted to sell,” concluded Mr Joy.

While there will be some who say what about online or what about commissions, in my view this is a good win for newsagents by ALNA, something to celebrate and appreciate by small business lottery retailers.

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→ 20 CommentsCategory: Competition · Lotteries