“We all mourn his passing, and regret so much that he could not be with us, when the lottery world returned to Vancouver, but it is very fitting that we have an award that ensures his legacy will live on – The Guy Simonis Lifetime Achievement Award”
– Rebecca Paul, World Lottery Association (WLA) President
The Award was introduced in 2000 to recognize outstanding service and commitment to the lottery industry by an individual.
A life-long passion for the world of lotteries and sports betting
Simonis emigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1954, at the age of 23. He helped found the Manitoba Amateur Sports Federation and served as its inaugural president in 1969.
During that year, Canada legalized provincially-run lotteries. A career that would last a lifetime began for Simonis, who developed the first sports lottery in the country, to help fund that Foundation’s activities. The scope of his initiatives soon expanded to cover lotteries, and he played a key role in organizing the Western Canada Lottery Foundation, uniting three prairie provinces and British Colombia; he also served as its inaugural president.
A decade later when British Colombia created its own provincial lottery, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), Simonis was its first president, staying in the role for some 18 years.
In 1985, Simonis was the first non- European elected to the Executive Committee of the International Association of Toto and Lotto Organizations (Intertoto), an association regrouping State-authorized sports betting organizations. It was one of the two forerunners of the WLA, the other being the International Association of State Lotteries (AILE), on whose Board he also sat.
In the same year, Guy was also elected president of what was then called the North American Association of State Lotteries, enabling him to realize his vision of putting the “P” (Provincial) in NASPL.
Talks to merge both international associations, since many lotteries offered both sports betting and lottery products, were only fruitful when Simonis became AILE president in 1995 and Intertoto president the following year.
Founding the World Lottery Association
His unique position enabled him to gather all parties (NASPL, AILE and Intertoto) together in 1996, at the World Meet in Vancouver.
His great ambition to create a single World Lottery Association was realized in 1999, at the Oslo Relations convention, where he was chosen to be the new Association’s first president.
Shortly thereafter, he retired from BCLC and stepped down as WLA President.
Helping the next generations
Simonis continued with the Erewhon lottery program he had created. Erewhon – the name of his fictitious lottery – spells “no where” backwards. Using different case studies, he trained over 600 lottery managers, on all five continents, on how to handle the different challenges the lotteries can face.
On a personal note
Those who knew Simonis, knew a true showman, who inspired everyone around him and loved to entertain audiences, large and small on the piano. He was also a great family man.
Simonis wrote autobiographical books, which look back at our industry and a life well lived.
Further reading: A lifetime in the lottery