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Local pro sports teams big lottery winners

Scratch-ticket sales top $409 million

By Katie Johnston Chase
Globe Staff / February 9, 2011

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Boston sports teams are doing big business in scratch-ticket sales.

Instant lottery games featuring the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots account for more than half the amount spent on all licensed team lottery games now in stores nationwide, according to research compiled by the trade publication SportsBusiness Journal.

The seven local sports teams’ lottery games now on sale have generated more than $409 million in sales; overall, the 51 current team-based games in the country have brought in more than $763 million.

It’s not surprising that local sports teams are faring so well in lottery sales. The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission not only has the highest sales per capita in the nation, it was the first state lottery to sell a professional sports-themed game and has more current team-based lottery games than any other state in the country.

“The sports team tickets leverage the success and the championship history of our local sports teams, and we have found that the sports fans are also wonderful lottery customers,’’ said Dan Rosenfeld, spokesman for the state lottery. “The sports organizations and the lottery both have traditions of winning.’’

The Red Sox were the first professional sports team in the nation to license a lottery game, in 2006. Since then, the Massachusetts State Lottery has put out 10 additional games featuring the four major professional Massachusetts sports teams, generating more than $1.1 billion in sales and raising more than $157 million for the state’s cities and towns.

The National Football League started licensing lottery games in 2009, and since then the New England Patriots game has brought in more than $102 million in sales in Massachusetts — one of the most successful instant-ticket launches in the lottery’s history, Rosenfeld said. The $5 Patriots ticket, which has a 1 in 4.49 chance of winning, was the first NFL game to top $100 million, according to SportsBusiness Journal.

There’s no doubt that Massachusetts residents are wild about the lottery. Residents spent an average $671 per person on lottery tickets in 2009, higher than any other state, according to La Fleur’s 2010 World Lottery Almanac.

“It was not surprising that given the fan fervor and the lottery excitement there that [the Massachusetts teams] were number one, but the fact that they were that dominant is definitely an eye-opener,’’ said David Broughton, research director at SportsBusiness Journal.

The teams themselves are thrilled by the popularity of their scratch tickets. The first Bruins game alone sold 25 million $2 tickets, and both Bruins games, which are still on sale, have brought in $900,000 in revenue for the team, said Amy Latimer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Bruins.

“This is great for our fans, this is great for our product,’’ she said, “but then when you realize the money is going to buy a firetruck or to support programs in schools, there’s no better relationship you can have with a partner.’’

Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at johnstonchase@globe.com.