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N.D. Lottery nears five-year anniversary

By Staff | Mar 12, 2009

“You have to be in it to win it,” as the lottery saying goes, and for the past five years, thousands of North Dakotans have chosen to play.

North Dakota joined several other states in offering a lottery, and since its start-up in March of 2004, it’s generated just over $100 million in sales, according to Donna Thronson, marketing specialist for the N.D. Lottery.

There are 400 licensed retailers selling tickets across the state, including three in Rugby – Cenex C-Store, Highway MVP, and Leevers.

Cenex C-Store sells the most tickets, about 1,400 tickets in a typical week, according to Travis Halvorson, C-Store manager.

That number is down roughly 200 tickets from the previous year, and Halvorson speculates that is attributed to higher gas prices and increases in prices of other products.

“We used to get people coming in just to buy tickets,” Halvorson said. “We don’t see that as much any more.”

Nevertheless, it’s a service available for customers. For every $1 ticket sold, the vendor receives a nickel. If the store sells the winning ticket from a large payout, it receives a bonus from the state.

At Leevers, tickets sales have been steady, but not spectacular. “It hasn’t changed a whole lot,” said Skip Christianson, Leevers assistant manager. “It started off big, then it tapered off some.”

Christianson said there are the “regulars” who come in each week to purchase tickets. Many prefer the state lottery games that don’t have the big payouts but have better odds of winning than Powerball.

Halvorson agrees the state-sponsored games are more popular, including the 2 by 2 and Hot Lotto. “People seem to like those because they have a better chance of winning,” he said. However, tickets for the Powerball do go up when the jackpot rises.

There haven’t been too many winning tickets sold locally which yielded a big payout. Halvorson said Cenex did have one for about $10,000 in the first year.

Since the lottery’s start, new games have been introduced, attracting more players. Hot Lotto was added in June of 2004, Wild Card 2 in September of that year and 2 by 2 in February of 2006. Thronson said the intent is to keep it fresh and in the public’s eye.

Of the $106 million generated in ticket sales since March of 2004, approximately $30 million has been put into the state’s general fund; $1.2 million has been placed in a compulsive gambling fund; and $822,000 has been earmarked for a multi-jurisdictional drug task force.

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