Thursday, February 09, 2006

And The Award For Best-Timed Promotion Goes To...

Outrage over "Wagergate" (so coined, perhaps, by The Acid Queen) has been screamed from rooftops across the hockey world and well beyond. People who, before this week, thought that a "faceoff" was related to the procedure that this woman had suddenly are comparing Wayne Gretzky to Pete Rose and Commissioner Gary Bettman is probably contemplating a change in his surname, lest he be confused with a bookie.

But as someone who did four hard years at Syracuse University, I can tell you that it takes a while for news to reach the frozen wasteland that is Central New York. Thus, perhaps there's a valid explanation for why, as the world recoils at the possible overlap of athletes and gambling, the AHL Syracuse Crunch today announced this promotion:

The Syracuse Crunch announced today that their Saturday, February 25 game against the Grand Rapids Griffins will be New York State Lottery Night at the Crunch.

The first 500 fans, 18 and over, in attendance will receive a Lotto coupon good for $1 off a Mega Millions lottery ticket, courtesy of New York State Lottery. New York Lottery will have a table located on the concourse for fans to enter to receive a New York Lottery coupon.

I know that lotteries are legal and that bookmaking (in the Tocchett case) is not. But in many ways it's a distinction without a difference. The moral of the story to me is that professional sports leagues and teams - aided by state and local governments - are more than happy to have you throw away your money chasing the easy way out and impossible odds, but only if they get in on the action. That and the irony of a promotional night encouraging gambling was just to much to pass up in light of current events.

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