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North Dakota lottery sales jump 12% in fiscal 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Big jackpots during the last fiscal year led to a 12% increase in North Dakota lottery ticket sales, which were the second highest in the state’s history, an official said Wednesday.
North Dakota gamblers wagered $35.3 million on lottery games for the fiscal year that ended June 30, eclipsing every other year except fiscal 2016, when they bet $35.7 million, the state’s lottery director, Randy Miller, told The Associated Press.
Big jackpots boost ticket sales, which was the case with a $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot in 2019, Miller said.
The lottery offers five multistate games — Powerball and Mega Millions, in which the odds of winning are minute and the jackpots potentially massive, and 2by2, Lucky For Life, and Lotto America which have smaller payouts but better odds.
Miller said Powerball has been the state’s most popular lottery game since it was launched in 2004, following a successful initiative campaign to lift the North Dakota Constitution’s lottery ban.
Unclaimed prizes last year totaled about $696,500, including a $100,000 Powerball ticket, Miller said. Those prizes are now expired.
The state lottery’s profits last fiscal year were $9.3 million, up from $8.3 million the year before.
Most lottery profits go toward the state’s general treasury, with smaller portions set aside to provide counseling for gambling addicts and for drug enforcement.
The lottery has transferred $320,000 to a compulsive gambling program in each of the past two years, and $422,500 each year to drug enforcement.
A total of $14.2 million in prizes was paid out to North Dakota players, which was up from $9 million the previous fiscal year, according to state data.
The lottery’s overall expenses increased from $23 million to $26 million due to an increase in ticket sales, Miller said.
Aside from prize payouts, the lottery’s biggest cost last year was the $3.7 million in commissions that were paid to Scientific Games International Inc., which supplies and services the lottery’s sales terminals. The Georgia company takes a commission of about 10 cents for every lottery ticket sold.
The lottery also paid a total of $1.75 million to the 450 North Dakota merchants who sell tickets. The businesses get a nickel commission for every dollar ticket they sell.