BISMARCK, N.D. — A lottery game played in some northern states for nearly two decades is ending with Wednesday's final drawing due to sagging sales.
Wild Card 2 has had dozens of jackpot winners, including a $2.8 million payout in Idaho in June 2007, and has paid out tens of millions of dollars in total winnings. However, ticket sales have been waning as new games have been introduced and Wild Card 2 has reached the end of its life cycle, according to lottery officials in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Idaho.
"The game has run its course," North Dakota Lottery spokesman Ryan Koppy said. "Games come and go. They all depend on sales."
Year-to-date Wild Card 2 ticket sales in the four states are down about 6.5 percent from last year, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees the game.
"The decision to end the game was based on waning popularity overall in all states that offer (it), and wasn't based on the performance of a single state," South Dakota Lottery spokeswoman Kelly Thompson said.
Wild Card 2 got its start in 1994 as the Tri-West Lotto in South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, with a starting jackpot of $150,000. It became the Wild Card game in 1998, with a jackpot starting at $200,000, and was offered in those states and Nebraska, according to the lottery association.
Nebraska dropped the game at the end of 1998, a few months before it was changed to Wild Card 2 with a starting jackpot of $100,000. North Dakota joined the game in 2004. In 2013, the starting jackpot was increased to $200,000.
"We're looking for different games we can offer in our product mix," Koppy said. "The (Wild Card 2) game has been around for quite a while."
Through the years, the game has paid out $14.5 million in North Dakota, about $30 million in South Dakota, more than $14 million in Montana, where records go back to fiscal 2004, and more than $24 million in Idaho, where records don't go further than fiscal 2001.
The jackpot for the final drawing was $375,000.
"If there's no jackpot winner for Wednesday's draw, the remaining funds will be divided among the four states that offer the game," said South Dakota Lottery Executive Director Norm Lingle.
If there is a winner, the person will have six months to claim the money, as usual.