Lottery goes extra yard for fans

State sets up game-day booth outside Ravens stadium for convenience

August 12, 2006|By CHRIS YAKAITIS | CHRIS YAKAITIS,SUN REPORTER

Even before the start of last night's preseason game between the Ravens and New York Giants, Fred Stolper was a winner.

He waved to his wife, Carla, and from about 20 feet away displayed a winning scratch-off game. His 8-year-old son, Max, ran to her to report the news: "Dad just won $20!"

Stolper bought the ticket from a Maryland Lottery stand just north of M&T Bank Stadium on Ravens Walk, the paved causeway between the stadium and Oriole Park.

The lottery has maintained a promotional table at the site for about eight years.

But this season, passers-by will also be able to play all the state lottery games - including Pick 3, Pick 4, Mega-Millions, Keno and scratch-offs - on their way to see the Ravens.

Lottery Communications Director Jimmy White said his group decided to add games to its display as a convenience to Ravens fans who in past seasons had asked if they could buy lottery tickets at the site.

"If people on the way in seem to like it and embrace it, then we'll continue it," he said. "We're certainly going to be there for all the games [this season]."

Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the National Football League, said the league has long-standing restrictions on the interplay of gambling and its professional games. But a state-owned lottery operating on state-owned property doesn't violate any league restrictions. "We make a distinction between state lotteries and gaming activity," he said.

The sale of lottery tickets within NFL stadiums is prohibited, Aiello said.

Advertising for state lotteries is allowed in stadiums, he said, but the NFL prohibits ads for casinos, hotels and riverboats that promote gambling.

He said the advertising restrictions also have led the NFL to refuse requests to air Las Vegas Tourism Commission television ads during the Super Bowl.

Outside the stadium yesterday, though, scores of people stopped by the Maryland Lottery promotional table while several dozen shelled out a few dollars to play scratch-off games or pick up lottery tickets. For a short time, two Ravens cheerleaders stood by a prize wheel set up by the lottery on some artificial turf that gave visitors a chance to spin for free lanyards, T-shirts, pens, hats, sunglasses, chip clips and key chains.

"It's entertainment," said White, the lottery spokesman. "That's all it is."

For the Stolpers, an Odenton family, it also made for a brief lesson in economics.

"How much did he spend to win $20?" Carla Stolper asked her son after learning of her husband's winnings.

"Ten dollars," Max said.

"Then he won $10," his mother said.

Fred Stolper shrugged off the difference. "It just paid for our alcohol," he said.

chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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