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Does North Dakota sell lottery tickets?

No, North Dakota does not currently have a state lottery or sell lottery tickets. North Dakota is one of the few U.S. states without a lottery. While legislation has been proposed to establish a lottery in North Dakota, it has been rejected by voters multiple times throughout the state’s history. North Dakota residents who wish to purchase lottery tickets must cross state lines or play lottery games in other jurisdictions.

Background on Lotteries in North Dakota

North Dakota has debated creating a state lottery on several occasions over the past few decades. In 1986, a referendum to establish a lottery in North Dakota was defeated with over 60% of voters opposing it. In 1988 and 1994, similar measures were also rejected by voters. In 2002, the North Dakota legislature passed a bill approving a state lottery, but it was repealed by voters in a referendum held in September 2004. The most recent attempt was in 2012, when a proposal to amend the state constitution to allow a state lottery was defeated with over 63% voting no.

Despite repeated rejections, proponents have continued to argue that a state lottery would generate significant revenue for North Dakota without raising taxes. Between $28-$54 million per year is one estimate of potential profits. However, opponents believe the social costs outweigh any economic benefits. Concerns over fostering addiction and disproportionately impacting lower-income residents are commonly cited reasons for rejecting lottery proposals in the state. The conservative leanings of North Dakota’s electorate and wariness of expanded gambling have stymied efforts as well.

Current Lottery Options for North Dakota Residents

While there is no in-state option, North Dakota residents have several ways to play state lottery games:

Travel to neighboring states

North Dakota is surrounded by states with lotteries, providing easy access for residents who wish to purchase tickets. Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho all have state lottery games that North Dakotans can play. The closest option is crossing into Minnesota, with cities like Fargo, Grand Forks, and Bismarck a short drive from the border. South Dakota cities like Sioux Falls and Rapid City are also popular lottery destinations.

Play lottery games online/via mobile app

In recent years, many U.S. lotteries have offered online and mobile options for purchasing tickets and playing games. North Dakota residents can access these platforms to play lotteries in other participating jurisdictions. For example, the Minnesota Lottery has an online play portal and mobile app. North Dakota residents 18 or older can sign up for an account, deposit funds, and use the services to play Powerball, Mega Millions, and other Minnesota lottery games.

Purchase tickets through third-party websites

There are online services like theLotter that allow players to buy official state lottery tickets without requiring U.S. residency/location. North Dakotans can use these sites to purchase tickets for drawings across the United States and internationally. The website purchases the ticket on the player’s behalf and scans it for them after the drawing if there are any winnings to collect.

North Dakota Lottery Proposals

While there is currently no timeline for bringing a lottery to North Dakota, some lawmakers continue advocating for a bill to allow a state lottery and/or sports betting. Here is background on some recent legislative proposals related to a North Dakota lottery:

2021 HB 1385

In early 2021, a draft House bill was prepared that would have amended the North Dakota constitution to legalize a state lottery if approved by voters. The bill stated the lottery must be operated by the North Dakota Lottery Commission, which would determine the types of lottery games offered. Net proceeds would fund a new State Lottery Fund to support education, public safety, health care, senior citizens, veterans services, preserves/parks, and gambling/addiction treatment programs. However, the bill failed to gain enough support and was not introduced during the legislative session.

2019 Sports Betting Legislation

While not specifically a state lottery, legislators did introduce bills in 2019 to legalize sports betting in North Dakota. Establishing sports betting would have opened the door for more gambling, including potentially a future lottery. The bills were modeled after legislation in states like New Jersey and Nevada. However, the proposals stalled and did not pass during that session. Efforts to expand gambling via sports betting are still seen as more politically viable than a lottery by some lawmakers.

2015-2017 Legislative Resolutions

Multiple legislative resolutions were introduced between 2015-2017 that would have put a constitutional amendment to allow a state lottery before voters. For example, Rep. Jim Kasper sponsored 2015 House Concurrent Resolution No. 3053 to establish games such as Powerball and Mega Millions in North Dakota. The net proceeds would have funded environmental and parks projects, public buildings, veteran nursing homes, and more. However, as with previous proposals, these resolutions did not advance out of committee during their sessions.

State Lottery Support and Opposition

The debate over starting a North Dakota state lottery has stirred passions on both sides for decades. Here is a summary of common arguments made by supporters and opponents of a North Dakota lottery:

Supporters Say:

  • A lottery would generate tens to hundreds of millions for vital state services without raising taxes.
  • North Dakotans are already playing out-of-state games, so the money should stay in-state.
  • Players will gamble anyway, so the state should regulate and benefit from it.
  • Lottery funds can be earmarked for popular causes like education, environment, etc.
  • Lotteries create jobs for vendors, agents, advertising firms, etc.

Opponents Say:

  • A lottery preys on human weakness and promotes a regressive form of taxation.
  • Lottery revenues are overestimated and come at a social cost.
  • Poorer residents will be tempted to gamble, thinking it’s their only path to wealth.
  • Once established, lottery profits will be shifted to general funds versus earmarked uses.
  • North Dakota already funds key priorities like education at higher levels than lottery states.

Public Opinion Polling on a North Dakota Lottery

Public opinion polling over the years has shown mixed support for establishing a North Dakota lottery:

Year Poll Results
2008 UND College of Business and Public Administration 55% supported a lottery, 36% opposed, 9% undecided
2012 University of North Dakota College of Business and Public Administration 47.8% would vote for a constitutional amendment to allow a lottery, 46.1% would vote against, 6.1% undecided
2014 SayAnythingBlog/Public Opinion Strategies 63% would vote against a constitutional amendment to legalize a lottery, 33% would vote for it

As the polls highlight, there are shifting attitudes in North Dakota on lottery support versus opposition. Backing seems to depend heavily on how the question is framed in terms of morality, economic benefits, addiction concerns, and more. Recent failures of lottery amendments indicate statewide opposition remains in the majority, but views are mixed.

Lottery Revenue and Impact in Nearby States

Examining the lottery results in nearby states can give a sense of what revenue and other impacts North Dakota might expect if it established its own lottery. Here is an overview of key data:

State Annual Lottery Revenue Where Funds Directed
Minnesota $632 million (2019) Environmental Trust Fund (40%), Game & Fish Fund (40%), Natural Resources Fund (20%)
South Dakota $122 million (2020) General state budget
Montana $67.7 million (2020) State General Fund, College Scholarships, Veterans Services
Idaho $253 million (2020) Public Schools, School Bond Levy Equalization Fund, Permanent Building Fund

Based on these figures from neighboring states, North Dakota might expect $50-$100 million or more in annual lottery revenue depending on participation rates if it approved a lottery.

However, critics argue that lottery dollars make up only a small fraction of overall state budgets (1-3% typically). They also contend out-of-state lotteries are drawing dollars from North Dakota residents already, limiting how much additional money an in-state option would generate versus just recapturing existing spending.

Native American Casino Gambling in North Dakota

While North Dakota does not have a state-run lottery, gambling is legal on Native American reservations under federal law. There are five tribes that operate casinos in North Dakota:

  • Spirit Lake Nation – Spirit Lake Casino & Resort
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe – Prairie Knights Casino and Resort
  • Three Affiliated Tribes – 4 Bears Casino & Lodge
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians – Sky Dancer Casino & Hotel
  • Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe – Dakota Magic Casino & Hotel

Unlike a state lottery where all revenues go to public programs, profits from Native casinos are used at the discretion of the sovereign tribal nations that own the operations. However, tribes have invested casino profits to provide services for their members like healthcare, housing, education, infrastructure, and more. The casinos also employ thousands of tribal members and non-Native residents.

Some argue the presence of tribal casinos further reduces demand for a state-run lottery. Between these gaming options and ease of playing out-of-state lotteries, North Dakotans have ample gambling opportunities already without needing to establish a new in-state lottery system.

Future Outlook

While legislative efforts have stalled in recent years, the push for a North Dakota lottery will likely resurface in the future. Supporters believe the state is leaving tax revenue on the table that could benefit public services without hiking rates. The need for funds in areas like education, environment, and infrastructure may spur renewed efforts. The success of lotteries in every surrounding state also keeps the issue on the agenda.

However, opponents doubt a lottery is a panacea and fear it could do more harm than good if costs like addiction and social welfare outweigh revenues. North Dakota’s conservative leanings and repeated past rejections of lottery amendments also point to an uphill battle for advocates. Public attitudes can shift over time, but there are not currently any definitive plans or timeline for introducing a state lottery in North Dakota. Absent a strong show of support in the legislature and amongst voters, North Dakota is likely to remain lottery-free for the foreseeable future.


In summary, North Dakota is currently one of the only U.S. states without a lottery or wagering games offered by the state government. Proposals dating back decades to establish a North Dakota lottery have consistently failed to win enough legislative and public support. However, residents can easily cross state lines or play lottery games online/via mobile apps from neighboring states that do participate. North Dakota also has Native American casinos that offer gambling for patrons. While the lottery issue will likely continue to be debated, there is no clear momentum towards approval. Based on past rejections and relatively limited projected revenues, North Dakota seems poised to hold out as a rare state without a permanent lottery for now.