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  • Writer's pictureSean O'Hagan CEO Tap 5050


We recommend a 50/50 on Steroids...Chase the Ace!!!

Published on March 31, 2018

50/50's Work, But May not be Optimal for Baseball

Don't get me wrong, I love 50/50 raffles. They even have a cult following of ticket purchasers. People have their rituals when they buy 50/50 raffle tickets. They buy them at a certain time, or from a certain seller. Sometimes even multiple times during a game. Jackpots have been as high as $750,000 at a football game in Western Canada and the World JR Hockey tournaments have pushed out $300,000 jackpots.

Ok, football check...we even average $100K/game at professional lacrosse games....what about baseball and basketball? The Toronto Blue Jays probably have one of the more successful programs and they have hit over 100K on a couple occasions, but for the most part their 50/50's are between 20k-40K. I went to a Golden State Warriors game and the jackpot was anemic around 6K with 19,000 in attendance.

Baseball is unique in the number of games that are played in a season. It is my belief, that macro factors works against 50/50 raffles. When you add up tickets, parking, food, beverages, and a 50/50 ticket, it can be overwhelming to do 80+ times a year. If football has 10 games, it is palatable for the average family to be able to afford to support their team by buying a 50/50 ticket. It may not be to purchase a 50/50 80+ times a year. Those same rituals I referred to at the beginning of the article, no longer apply.

Chase the Ace....a Better Alternative to 50/50 Raffles

A fun fact is that Texas state law allows cash prizes for professional teams. Those cash prizes don't have to be from a 50/50. There are games that have higher fundraising potential than 50/50's, more fun to play, and for some, more importantly put bums in seats...which is good for the team and the charitable foundation.

Electronic 50/50's raffles stemmed from Canada. They were invented in Eastern Canada, and spread quickly across Canada with Western Canada the home of 50/50 raffles. Ironically, Eastern Canada has now adopted Chase the Ace raffles with jackpots hitting over 3 million dollars as their raffle of choice. Did I just say the land of where electronic 50/50's started, have been largely replaced by a lust for Chase the Ace raffles. Yes I did. They are fun, it takes fan participation and viewership and jackpots can be life changing.

Putting Bums in Seats

A downside to Chase the Ace Raffles has been the very large successful ones have created social problems in some towns. People from all over come to play the weekly chase the ace when the jackpots get very large and in some cases towns couldn't handle the added cell tower needs, police presence and emergency medical services for large crowds. It's just a guess, but I think some baseball teams would love to have these problems. I'm also guessing if a jackpot hit a million dollars at a baseball game....there wouldn't be many seats left in the stadium.

This is a picture of people lining up just to purchase tickets for a Chase the Ace draw in Eastern Canada

Baseball is actually perfect for a Chase the Ace, because there are 52 cards in a deck and the raffle could theoretically last 52 games. Other sports do not have enough home games to cover the possible length of the raffle.

Chase the Ace Rebranded for Texas Pro Baseball......Catching Nolan Ryan Lottery

Texas has produced a lot of great baseball players. One of the most famous would be Nolan Ryan. I think Catching Nolan Ryan Lottery would be a fun "Texanized" game.

Basically the way the game is played is there would be sales at every home game, and the winner would win 20% of the jackpot instead of 50% like 50/50's payout. The other 30% goes into a progressive prize. It's not won until one of the home game 20% winners cuts a deck of cards and cuts Nolan Ryan (52 cards in the deck and a Nolan Ryan card). If they don't cut Nolan Ryan, the card is removed from the deck, and ripped up. If they cut Nolan Ryan (catch Nolan Ryan), they win the progressive 30% jackpot from every home game. On average Nolan should be cut about every 26 games...but it could go to 53. If it did, the jackpots would be huge and the seats full in the stadium Guaranteed!!! In fact, if you don't want to throw away the cards after each unsuccessful cut, you could keep the whole deck in tact, and if Nolan Ryan wasn't caught by the last game of the year, then you could force the jackpot at that time.

You can design the game however you want it. There are few rules in Texas with regards to regulatory issues as long as you are not breaking state law. The trick is be as transparent as possible, write the rules ahead of time, and post them on your site. It's a new concept, but it wouldn't take long for fans to catch on. Math says, jackpots would get huge sooner or later, and it makes it a lot more exciting and creates fan engagement. I love it for baseball. I hope you do too!!

Sean O'Hagan is the designer, developer, and operator of a dynamic online and electronic raffle/lottery system. "As the CEO of Tap 50:50 Event Consultants Ltd, I strive in helping sports teams and non-profit organizations fundraise at their events."

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