Texas Lottery hopes Dallas Cowboys' new scratch-off game is a hot ticket
12:01 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 4, 2009
By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News [email protected]
/ The Dallas Morning News
Lottery tickets are all about the green, but the blue and silver will be added to the mix this month. The Texas Lottery Commission announced Monday that it will start a Dallas Cowboys scratch-off game Aug. 17. The $5 tickets will have cash prizes of up to $100,000 as well as chances to win packages that include a stadium suite, private tours, and airfare and tickets to an away game.
The Cowboys tickets are part of a flood of new lottery games featuring National Football League teams. League officials said more than a dozen other teams have signed or have started negotiating similar lottery deals since a ban ended in May
. "We've been examining this category carefully over the past few years," said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman. "We've become increasingly comfortable in easing our restrictions."
The NFL has previously been hesitant to link its brand with any form of gambling. Efforts by professional gamblers to shave points or fix games have haunted sports since the Chicago White Sox scandal of 1919. Since lottery tickets are based on chance and not athletes' performance, NFL owners decided this year to pursue this new revenue source. "We still maintain our strict restrictions on affiliations with gambling that's based on the outcome of NFL games," McCarthy said. "It [a lottery] has nothing to do with what takes place on the field."
He said it would not open up the NFL to collaboration with other gambling interests. In fact, the NFL, the NCAA and other large sports leagues are suing to prevent Delaware from allowing betting on individual sporting events, McCarthy said.
He said the sports officials believe that would violate a federal law passed in the 1990s that allowed limited sport gambling in a few states.
A win-win situation?
The Lottery Commission announced its Houston Texans branded tickets last month, and New York Giants officials said Monday on the team's Web site that they had a deal with the Connecticut Lottery for a scratch-off game. The Cowboys lottery tickets are projected to raise at least $10 million for the Foundation School Fund, a major public education funding source. The Lottery Commission is printing 12 million Cowboys scratch-offs and 4.5 million Texans tickets. In exchange, the teams will receive licensing fees. Those amounts were not immediately available Monday.
"It's a way to have our fans touch a certain part of our team that no one gets to touch," said Jerry Jones Jr., Cowboys vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. Tickets for each team will be available at all of the Texas Lottery's 16,000-plus locations, but some NFL rules will apply. The Cowboys can't market their tickets within 75 miles of Houston. The same restrictions apply for Texans marketing efforts near the Dallas area.
The Cowboys game is also the Texas Lottery's most ambitious effort in offering second-chance drawings. Players can mail losing tickets to the state Lottery Commission to enter to win noncash prizes, such as VIP tickets, use of a suite, game transportation and other perks.
The Lottery Commission has offered second-chance prizes in other games, but none of this value. The winners of the noncash prizes also will receive money to pay off taxes on the winnings.
NFL late to the game
Although the NFL is regarded as a leader in sports marketing, it's years behind on lottery deals. In 2007, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros had Texas scratch-off tickets as part of a Major League Baseball initiative with state lotteries. Last year, the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets had scratch-off games.
Jim Cochrane, vice president of corporate sales for the Rangers, said his team did not get a licensing fee from the Lottery Commission. But he said the collaboration did include advertising at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Cochrane declined to release specifics, but he said the advertising was for a low six-figure amount for each of the two years.
"Anytime that we've got the Rangers logo out in the marketplace, associated with the right kind of things, that's a good thing for us," Cochrane said.
He said there is no way to know for certain whether the scratch-off game raised the Rangers' profile or drove any more business to the ballpark.
Gary Grief, Lottery Commission deputy executive director, said there was no hesitation on his part when the NFL ban was lifted. "We were quick to come to a deal," he said about the Cowboys lottery game. "It's a tremendous brand."
Staff writer David Moore in San Antonio contributed to this report. Texas Lottery hopes Dallas Cowboys' new scratch-off game is a hot ticket | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Regional News