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NFL lockout may tackle Ravens scratch-off lottery game

Having already claimed most of the NFL offseason, the labor dispute between professional football players and team owners could notch another victim this summer — one of Maryland’s most popular scratch-off lottery games.

The State Lottery Agency will seek approval to change its agreement with the Baltimore Ravens that allows Maryland to sell Ravens Cash Fantasy tickets that offer gamblers, among other prizes, the chance at “seats for life.”

If the National Football League’s player lockout is not resolved by early September the lottery would delay distribution of the game to retailers until the 2012 season.

“Assuming this project is approved, we will go ahead and print the tickets,” said lottery Director Stephen L. Martino. “We’re going to do it in a way though that doesn’t market it or require it to be issued in 2011.”

The contract, which will be before the Board of Public Works on Wednesday, calls for 3.12 million tickets to be printed. At $5 apiece, the game has a retail face value of $15.6 million. That would represent a little less than 1 percent of the $1.7 billion in lottery tickets Maryland sold in fiscal 2010.

“This is the best-selling $5 scratch-off in the history of the lottery — 2009 was No. 1 and 2010 was No. 2,” said Martino. “There has been an overwhelmingly positive reaction from our players who are also fans of the Ravens.”

The Ravens game will cost the state $85,000 up front to license the Ravens logo and $690,000 to pay for the season tickets, luxury suites, away-game travel and other prizes provided by the team.

After paying out cash prizes, the game brought the state $1.1 million in 2009 and up to $2 million from the 2010 season, according to the lottery.

“You’re taking away the sales we had in 2009 and 2010 but we’re not going to leave the cupboard bare,” Martino said. “We’ll put another game out there. But will it sell as well? I doubt it.”

The loss of the Ravens game could ripple through the sales of other lottery games.

“This is a tent pole in our advertising and branding campaign, and we get a lot of collateral benefit because of our association with the Ravens,” Martino said. “That will be harder to measure if we don’t have those opportunities.”

But even as the NFL threatens the Ravens-themed tickets, the state is working to expand its football presence. Martino said the lottery is negotiating a sponsorship deal that would allow the lottery to sell its tickets at Washington Redskins home games.

While the team bears the name of the nation’s capital, it plays in Prince George’s County and is considering moving its headquarters there from Ashburn, Va. The state is footing the bill to study the potential relocation.

A lottery spokeswoman said the lottery is not working with the Redskins on developing a scratch-off ticket to sell in Maryland.

The Virginia Lottery already sells scratch-offs with the Redskins logo and name. The Redskins Mania game launched there in 2009 and, with tickets going for $20 apiece, lasted only one year. Redskins Legacy started last year priced at $10 and outsold its more expensive predecessor, according to a lottery spokesman.

“You try to find the price point that works best for that game and the players that prefer that game,” said John Hagerty, the spokesman.

If the NFL lockout persists, Maryland is in danger of losing more than lottery tickets. Comptroller Peter Franchot estimated that each home game the Redskins and Ravens miss would cost the state $2 million in tax revenue.

Westminster learned last month it would not host the Ravens training camp for the first time since the team moved to Maryland before the 1996 season. The team opted to hold its summer program at its Owings Mills facility if and when the lockout is lifted.