When North Dakota's new lottery begins selling Powerball tickets on March 25, it will represent only the first sample of a gambling assortment that state officials plan to offer this year.
At least two lesser-known games, Hot Lotto and Wild Card 2, are slated for introduction this summer. Another, called 2 by 2, may be rolled out in the fall, although Chuck Keller, North Dakota's lottery director, said that has not been decided.
North Dakota also may participate in an international lottery by June 2005, according to a state request for proposals from advertising agencies, one of which will be hired to help market the lotteries.
The contract will be awarded Jan. 28 and will last until June 2005, although it may be extended for another two years at the lottery's option.
Keller said the mention of an international lottery was prematurely included in the request for proposals.
Whether North Dakota takes part in a multinational game will depend on whether the Multistate Lottery Association is able to reach an agreement with a lottery outside the United States, Keller said.
The association, which is based in West Des Moines, Iowa, administers the Powerball, Hot Lotto, Wild Card 2 and 2 by 2 games. Its director, Charles Strutt, said the international option is still being explored. He would not provide details, calling the multinational effort "a longer-term project that we've been working on."
"I think there are pretty good odds that five years from now, we will have something," Strutt said. "We've talked to a number of lotteries out there. Some are looking at the concept, and some are just talking about it."
North Dakota voters endorsed a constitutional amendment in November 2002 that allows the state to join a multistate lottery. The amendment did not mention state participation in lotteries offered in other countries.
The North Dakota lottery's administrative rules define a multistate lottery as a game "that spans the individual borders of a state, province, district, commonwealth, territory or country."
Keller said if the "multistate lottery" term were interpreted literally, North Dakota would not be allowed to participate in Powerball. Aside from 24 states, the game is played in the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, which is a U.S. territory.
Hot Lotto, Wild Card 2 and the 2 by 2 game all have smaller jackpots and better odds of winning a prize than do Powerball. All three games are much less widely available than Powerball. Hot Lotto, the second most widespread game, is offered in only six states.
Hot Lotto is scheduled for its North Dakota rollout on June 1, while Wild Card 2 is planned for Aug. 1. The fourth game, 2 by 2, is also played in Nebraska and Kansas, and could be added in the fall.
"Powerball is going to make a considerable impact, but people are naturally going to want to play other games," Keller said. "As this goes forward, we're going to be looking at different product mixes."