A gift of luck -- or a gift of debt?
Picking the right Christmas present can be a gamble. So why not make it official? The North Dakota Lottery hopes many will do just that this holiday season by taking advantage of a first-time-ever 10 percent discount on subscribing to one or more...
Picking the right Christmas present can be a gamble.
So why not make it official?
The North Dakota Lottery hopes many will do just that this holiday season by taking advantage of a first-time-ever 10 percent discount on subscribing to one or more of the state's four lottery games.
"It (a subscription) makes a great gift for those lottery lovers on a Christmas list, or gift list in general," said Donna Thronson, marketing specialist with the North Dakota Lottery.
A lottery subscription also can be a good thing for people who have a difficult time getting to retail outlets to buy tickets, she said, adding that 13-, 26- and 52-week subscriptions have been available for several years, though they haven't been heavily promoted.
During the 2005-07 biennium, the lottery pumped more than $12 million into North Dakota's general fund, with $400,000 going for programs that address problem gambling.
Thronson said the lottery per se is not a major temptation for those with gambling addictions.
"Because we have the waiting period, it has a tendency to be less of a compulsion," Thronson said.
Dawn Cronin, a certified gambling counselor with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, agreed.
Cronin said clients don't identify the lottery as a big bugaboo.
"They'll pick up a ticket, but it's not their game of choice. It's not the one that's causing them not to be able to pay the bills," according to Cronin, who said it's estimated 3.5 percent of North Dakotans have a problem with gambling.
When it comes to the lottery, Cronin said the lag time between when a ticket is bought and when the payout is announced limits its appeal to hardcore gamblers.
The picture is different in Minnesota, she said, where scratch-off tickets provide the instant gratification some crave.
"Those (players) are the ones we see," said Cronin, adding the stress of the holiday season intensifies problems for people who see gambling as a form of emotional release, or a way to pay for Christmas presents they can't afford.
"They have that kind of irrational thinking going on," Cronin said.
She said many clients initially show up after the holidays.
"They're calling the first part of January to get some help," she said.
People who buy subscriptions to the North Dakota Lottery can do so over the Internet using credit cards, which can't be used when someone buys a lottery ticket at a retail outlet.
There are 772 lottery subscriptions in North Dakota, with some players having as many as five, Thronson said.
She said the lottery hopes its $55,000 promotional campaign, of which $5,000 will go to pay for the discounts, will triple subscription numbers.
For a Powerball player, an annual subscription normally costs $104. With the discount, the price is $94.
With a subscription, prizes of $5 or less go to extend the subscription and allow people to play longer. Winnings of more than $5 are mailed to the player.
To subscribe to the North Dakota Lottery, players must have a mailing address in the state.
The 10 percent discount is available through Dec. 31.
Thronson said the promotion will be evaluated and if enough people show interest it could be repeated.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.