The Denver Broncos are betting on a new marketing venture: partnering with their state lottery. In the wake of the NFL’s recent decision to...

The Denver Broncos are betting on a new marketing venture: partnering with their state lottery.

In the wake of the NFL’s recent decision to relax its rules against team-affiliated gambling, the Broncos have joined a number of professional sports teams in partnering with their local lottery. Colorado’s instant game, “Luck Happens,” which consists of $5 lottery cards where players scratch off images of Broncos’s helmets, debuted on September 14. The biggest payoff in the game is $100,000, with losing tickets eligible for “second chance” winnings online, including 50 pairs of tickets for the Broncos 2010 season, luxury suite entrance at the Broncos-Raiders match up on December 20, and tickets to the team’s away games in 2010.

Total earnings for the game, if all 1.8 million tickets are sold, are estimated to be $9 million, with estimates of $1 million to $1.5 million benefiting Colorado’s parks, recreational areas and wildlife preservation. Lottery players are estimated to get a return of about 70 percent on their money, or $6.3 million.

The team’s profit from the game could be from $308,000 to $537,000, but Joe Ellis, COO for the Broncos, was quoted in a recent Denver Post article as saying that this venture is primarily a marketing move for the team, an attempt to get the Broncos’s name and logo out to the general public in a way that they have not tried before.

“Back in May, when the NFL [made the ruling], obviously that opened up opportunities across the country…Here in Colorado, we’ve done things with other teams, like the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. The Broncos approached us and we worked out a deal with them,” Tom Kitts, Deputy Director at Colorado’s State Lottery, told TicketNews. “The NFL franchise is the number one sports franchise [here]. It has the longest history in Denver and Colorado, and has probably engendered the most loyalty for all of Colorado. It was a good deal, and I think the Broncos saw our 26-year history, I think they see what we do and they came to the table with some good things for us.”

Kitts added, “One of the things we are happy about is [that this venture is] almost like a shared opportunity. The Broncos make more off of our agreement based on number of tickets we sell. If it doesn’t do so well, they share the risk. We expect it to do well, but in some cases,…sometimes one entity is not willing to share the risk. The Broncos were in this case, and we’re happy about that.”

According to Kitts, the game includes tiered cash prizes scaling up to the $100,000 top prize, with “second chance” drawings occurring halfway through the game and then at the game’s end. At the halfway mark, “second chance” players will be eligible for Broncos merchandise, the luxury box seats on December 20, and tickets to away games. But Kitts seems especially pleased with the end-of-game prizes: “We’ll give 50 pairs of season tickets to players. [With season tickets], if you’re not on the waiting list, it’s difficult to go out there and procure season tickets. People have an opportunity to get season tickets where they otherwise wouldn’t.”

Kitts has been pleased with how smoothly the development and launch of the game have gone. “We were excited because sometimes [it takes everyone] a long time to come together. We’ve been impressed with our work with the Broncos, and with the ticket vendors, how quickly the whole process came together.”

The Denver Broncos are the 16th NFL team to allow local lotteries to use their team logo to sell tickets since the NFL’s rules change in May. At that time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference about the decision and was quoted in the Boston Globe regarding the thinking behind this move in the context of the organization’s long standing opposition to betting on games. “This would purely be scratch-off and chance games. They are not in any way connected to the outcome of our games. That is a critical feature for us. We do think it is responsive to the pressures that states are feeling right now to help meet some of those budget shortfalls. It has been effective in other sports, and it is something that is a reasonable policy.”

The New England Patriots were the first team to take advantage of the change in rules, announcing almost immediately following the decision their intention to work with the Massachusetts State Lottery to allow their logo on the lottery’s instant tickets.