The North Dakota Lottery has taken a bite out of Minnesota Lottery Powerball sales in border cities, according to a Minnesota Lottery official.
Still, sales of scratch tickets -- which are not sold in North Dakota -- have kept several Moorhead retailers near the head of the pack for overall Minnesota lottery game sales, research analyst Todd Maki said from state lottery headquarters in Roseville.
Sales on both sides of the Red River remained brisk Wednesday as players bought numbers for Wednesday night's $177 million Powerball jackpot.
Powerball ticket sales in Moorhead, East Grand Forks and Breckenridge during the current jackpot run are off considerably from sales during a similar jackpot run last year.
Wednesday's $177 jackpot, worth $96 million if installments are taken, is the largest since North Dakota joined the Multistate Lottery Association and its Powerball game on March 25.
"The numbers tell an interesting story," Maki said.
Maki compared the current jackpot run with one from almost exactly a year ago.
He found that, over seven weeks of sales, Powerball purchases were down 61 percent in Moorhead, to $135,000 this run from $350,000 last year; down 60 percent in East Grand Forks, to $76,000 from $190,000; and down 41 percent in Breckenridge, to $22,000 from $40,000.
Despite border losses, Minnesota sales overall during the recent jackpot run are up 4 percent from last year's run. Maki suspects he knows why.
With the addition of Maine, Tennessee and North Dakota, jackpots are escalating faster, and large jackpots attract more players.
"The dynamics of the game have changed slightly," Maki said. "More participating states means more people are playing the game and the jackpots can grow more quickly."
For example, after 15 draws a year ago, the jackpot reached $162 million. After 15 draws this year, Wednesday's jackpot had reached $177 million.
The North Dakota Lottery rang up $11.2 million in Powerball, Hot Lotto and Wild Card 2 sales from Powerball's inception through Oct. 2, said Eileen Walsh of the lottery's office in Bismarck.
Fargo retailers during that period sold $1.22 million worth of tickets, Grand Forks retailers $733,800 and Wahpeton retailers $89,800. West Fargo retailers likely took a little border business as well with $285,000 in sales, Walsh said Wednesday.
North Dakota's lottery hasn't put a dent in demand for scratch-off tickets in border cities.
Despite Powerball competition from North Dakota, overall lottery sales remain strong at Cash Wise on U.S. Highway 10 in Moorhead, store manager Greg Jaroszewski said.
"It seems to me like we're selling just as many dollars worth as we have in the past," he said. "It's just like anything, the larger the jackpot, the more the demand."
Scratch-off games are hotter than ever in Minnesota. Sales for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, are up 13 percent from the same period a year ago.
Retailers in Minnesota and North Dakota take a 5 percent commission on lottery sales.
Five border retailers -- three in Moorhead and two in East Grand Forks -- were among the top 10 Minnesota Lottery retailers in Minnesota for the fiscal year ended June 30.
Two Moorhead retailers and one East Grand Forks restaurant are among the top 10 in sales for the first quarter of the new fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
Moorhead's M&H Restaurant -- a gas, convenience and dining spot at 510 Main Ave. - was the top lottery retailer in Minnesota for the last fiscal year. In the latest quarterly tally, for sales July 1 through Sept. 30, M&H was No. 3.
M&H assistant manager Desirea Van Raden said there has been a dip in Powerball sales, but that it might also be attributed to limited access to M&H due to Main Avenue bridge construction. A wider Main Avenue bridge opens in November four blocks west of M&H.
There has been no drop in sales of scratch tickets, she said. "We go through just as many of those as before," Van Raden said. "I don't think there has been any increase at all."
Down the block, the story is pretty much the same. Dean Hornbacher, president of Hornbacher's Foods, said they haven't really seen a decline in sales at the Moorhead store on Main and 11th Street.
Regardless of the jackpot, people need groceries. And if the jackpot's a big one, they buy Powerball tickets, be it at a Fargo or Moorhead grocery store. Hornbacher's did not make Minnesota's top 10 list for the most recent quarter.
"We probably saw a slight decrease for a while, but that probably had more to do with the bridge and our remodeling," Hornbacher said. "As far as today, I don't think there has been any significant decline in Moorhead."