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Moorhead again among top lottery ticket sellers in state, thanks to North Dakotans

Minnesota Lottery Executive Director Robert Doty talk to reporters at Orton's Holiday Stationstore in south Moorhead Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. He's flanked by Mayor Del Rae Williams on his left and state Rep. Ben Lien, D-Moorhead, on his right. Tu-Uyen Tran / Forum News Service

MOORHEAD, Minn. — With the No. 1 and No. 2 sellers of lottery tickets located in Moorhead, the city is once again among the top-selling cities in the state, Minnesota Lottery Executive Director Robert Doty told reporters Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Though he didn't say it, a lot of that likely has to do with North Dakotans buying their tickets in Minnesota. The No. 1 store, M&H, on Main Avenue, and Orton's Holiday Stationstore at 725 30th Ave. S., near Interstate 94, are both on major east-west corridors near the state line.

Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams said she wants to thank her "neighbors to the west" for some of the sales in her city.

"I love when they come over here and spend their money," she said.

Frank Orton, an owner of the Orton's store, credited his employees and the additional traffic he's seen since renovating the store. But he added, "Being on the border certainly helps us quite a bit as well."

Minnesota offers instant-win scratch tickets and North Dakota does not, a factor that North Dakota lottery players have cited for buying tickets in Minnesota. North Dakota also started its lottery in 2004, 14 years after Minnesota. That's how stores in a small city like Moorhead can outsell those in Minnesota's bigger metro areas.

But North Dakota's loss is Minnesota's gain.

Doty said he came to town to highlight the benefits of the lottery, especially the environmental programs.

"We are here today because we want to celebrate the biggest winners in this region, and that is northwest Minnesotans," he said at a press conference held at the Orton's store.

"We take great pride in the fact that Minnesota revenues improved the quality of life for Minnesotans in all corners of this state, including some pretty significant projects here in northwest Minnesota," he said.

Significant projects Doty mentioned include a prairie butterfly breeding program in Clay, Mahnomen, Norman and several other counties; and a program to prevent invasive aquatic species from taking over in Becker, Clay, Otter Tail and Wilkin counties. Minnesota State University Moorhead also received lottery funding to restore a prairie near Glyndon, Minn.

According to Doty, Orton's south Moorhead store has sold more than $20 million in lottery tickets since 1990, the year the lottery started, of which $9.5 million went to lottery winners and nearly $5 million to state programs.

All 19 Moorhead stores that sell lottery tickets have sold nearly $100 million since 1990, of which more than $38 million went to lottery winners and $24.2 million went to state programs.

Statewide, $11.9 billion worth of lottery tickets have been sold since 1990, of which $7 billion went to lottery winners and $2.8 billion went to state programs.

Doty said the south Moorhead store has seen double-digit sale increases in just the first year and 8 percent among all Orton stores compared to 6 percent statewide.

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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