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  • Writer's pictureSean O'Hagan CEO Tap 5050

What do In-game 50/50 Raffles Post Covid look like?


I’ve always said Western Canada is the epicenter of 50/50 raffles. We’ve seen some very big jackpots in Western Canada and it seems Edmonton is in the center of the epicenter if that is possible…it certainly appears to be.

I wrote a paper hypothesizing that professional sports teams could run major lotteries more successful than our very popular Hospital Home Lotteries. It looks like it only took me 7 years, and a perfect storm to be right, but I’ll take it. Teams such as the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and the World Juniors Hockey tournament pumped out 50/50 raffles over a million dollars. In the case of the Oilers and the World Juniors $14,000,000 and $17,000,000 respectively. That is some serious fundraising.

It’s now time for another prediction. With the advent of online 50/50 ticket purchasing being so popular, when the world rights itself, this could lead to issues with in-game terminal based sales.

Big jackpots get big jackpots. This is the same theory as nightclubs. Everybody wants to get into the nightclub that is lined up. If millions of dollars can be generated online, there is a strong chance that in-game sales will also see a considerable spike in sales. This means more volunteers, more terminals, more selling booths….but what does it mean for the team?

There is now a monumental shift in the 50/50 industry. It has gone from selling tickets in-game to only the fans in attendance to a state/provincial focus to fans along with those “gamblers” that are attracted to big jackpots. The relationship has shifted from transactional to a more intimate relationship with fans sharing their personal information in order to buy online.

Marketing is not only having Hawkers in brightly colored jackets yelling 50/50 along the concourse anymore. It is reaching out to fans over social media, television and email.

It begs the question what will life look like when fans are allowed back into the stands? My guess would be in-game sales with handheld terminals will greatly increase if online sales bring in millions of dollars. It may even be a distraction from the game itself as experienced at some CFL games.

Lineups at booths, hours of waiting for a ticket has been experienced at in-game record setting jackpots at the Edmonton (then called Eskimos) games. The Edmonton Eskimos back in 2018 had a $832,000 in-game electronic 50/50 completely sold through handheld terminals. It was one of the rare occasions the game itself was possibly a side dish to the raffle. What will happen if the Jackpot is at three or four million dollars before anybody even steps foot in the arena or stadium?

The challenge now is multi-dimensional. The challenge may become how do I service in game demand along with do I transition those in game purchasers onto online so I can market to them in the future? Teams will need to capture the 50/50 purchasers’ data in-game to convert them to online purchasing in the future when they aren’t at the event.

With these new challenges, comes great opportunity. It could be a virtuous cycle. Certainly for major pro teams that already have great 50/50’s, but also for minor league teams that could use some help bolstering their jackpots.

Regardless of what the future brings, the genie is out of the bottle and I’m looking forward to being in the stands once again.

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