North Dakota joining Lucky for Life multi-state game
By Todd Northrop
Wild Card 2, a multi-state lottery game currently offered in four states, is ending with the Feb. 24 drawing.
The lottery game that has been played in one form or another for more than 20 years is being dropped after a fall in popularity, according to lottery officials.
Wild Card 2 offers two plays for $1. It got its start in 1994 as Tri-West Lotto and was offered only in Idaho, Montana and South Dakota. In 1998, it was changed to Wild Card and was finally revised to Wild Card 2 a year later. Recently the game went through a logo change that dropped the "2" from the title.
The game is currently played in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
"Just like with our scratch tickets, lotto games have a life cycle and it's necessary sometimes to end a game whose playership has fallen off to pave the way for new games to be implemented," South Dakota Lottery executive director Norm Lingle said.
During the game's lifetime, nearly 20 Wild Card 2 jackpots were won in South Dakota. Most recently, the jackpot was hit twice in the state during the month of November — for $270,000 in the Nov. 11, 2015, drawing and $215,000 in the Nov. 24, 2015, drawing.
In North Dakota, Wild Card 2 players have won more than $14.5 million, including 18 jackpots of $100,000 or more, since the state added the game in September 2004.
Wild Card 2 tickets will continue to be sold at all lottery retailers through the final drawing on Feb. 24, 2016. For players who purchase advance draws, the last draw at which they can purchase nine draws in advance is Jan. 27, 2016.
Lucky for Life coming to North Dakota
To replace the departing Wild Card 2 game, the North Dakota Lottery will launch its first new multi-state draw game in six years, Lucky for Life, on Jan. 31.
Currently played in 16 states plus Washington, D.C., Lucky for Life offers better odds than Powerball or Mega Millions but with a smaller and distinctively styled top prize. It is also the only game offered in the US in which the top two prizes are "for life" prizes.
"We're always looking and researching game ideas and trying to add to our product mix to keep things fresh and add some variety for players," North Dakota Lottery Director Randy Miller said.
The top prize in Lucky for Life is $1,000 a day for life, paid weekly for a minimum of 20 years. Players pay $2 for a ticket with five numbers and one "Lucky Ball" number, and must match all six numbers to claim the jackpot.
Second prize is $25,000 a year for life. Eight other levels of matches yield prizes from $3 to $5,000. Drawings are held every Monday and Thursday.
Odds of winning the Lucky for Life jackpot are about 1 in 31 million, which Miller said is "very good" compared with Powerball's 1-in-292-million odds and Mega Millions' 1-in-259-million odds.
"We're very excited, and I think our players will be excited as well, to get a new game out there," Miller said.
Bryan Ellison, manager at Superpumper in south Bismarck, said he's excited to have another draw game to offer customers, and he also hasn't noticed a dip in ticket sales.
"When the jackpot gets up to a major amount like the Powerball is right now, we see an increase, but most of the time people come in and just buy one and don't think another thing about it. It's just habit," he said.