Ten years of N.D. lottery

Ten years ago, the North Dakota Lottery opened for business, with Minot Rep. Andy Maragos purchasing the first ticket after spearheading a successful initiative to put the lottery measure on the ballot in November 2002.

Voters approved amending the state constitution to allow the introduction of Powerball, and Maragos bought the first ticket on March 25, 2004. The state now has five lottery games, with cumulative sales of more than $215 million since the first ticket was sold, according to state officials.

Even though voters approved the lottery back in 2002, there have always been those opposed to the game. Former Gov. Art Link, who died in 2010, was perhaps the most vocal opponent of the lottery, arguing that that allowing the games in North?Dakota would increase the number of compulsive gamblers in the state, although lottery players near bordering state simply had to drive across the border to Minnesota or South Dakota to buy their tickets.

Supporters say that $56 million has gone into the state’s general treasury since the lottery began, with $2.5 million provided for drug enforcement and $2 million allocated to provide counseling for gambling addicts.

The people spoke in 2002, and the lottery continues to grow in North Dakota. Clearly, it’s something residents here still want, and that means it’s not going anywhere.