Is Wyoming siphoning lottery ticket sales from Idaho?

Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-15 00:06:50-04

EVANSTON, Wyoming -- Debbie Sutherland plunked down $20 in cash on the counter for a Powerball ticket.

Like many Utahns, the Mona resident traveled here to participate in the lottery -- something she can't do back home. Sutherland said she used to stop and buy tickets in Idaho on her way to visit relatives out of state. Now, she's making a shorter drive to Evanston.

"I make my husband bring me up every once in a while just to buy one," she told FOX 13 on Friday. "Just for fun!"

This town on the Utah-Wyoming border has been hoping for a jackpot when the state began selling lottery tickets last year. It's also been hoping to lure Utahns -- who don't have lottery in the state -- with the promise of slightly less of a drive. It's only 82 miles from Salt Lake City to Evanston, compared to 108 miles from Salt Lake City to Malad, Idaho.

Wyoming only sells Powerball, MegaMillions and the state's own Cowboy Draw tickets (Idaho sells scratch tickets and other games, in addition to Powerball and MegaMillions).

FOX 13 filed public records requests for ticket sales figures from both the Idaho and Wyoming lotteries. The results show a decline in Powerball and MegaMillions sales in towns on the Idaho-Utah border, but is unclear if it correlates to nearly $3 million in lottery ticket sales in Evanston, Wyo., since it launched nearly a year ago.

The Wyoming Lottery said it sold $2.8 million in ticket sales in Evanston from August 2014 to July 2015. Statewide, there were $18 million in ticket sales.


In Idaho, stores in Malad and Franklin (along the Utah border) have seen decreases in sales. Idaho Lottery Commission spokesman David Workman pointed out that sales decreases are statewide for Powerball and MegaMillions, consistent with a decline nationally.

"Sales of these games from the stores in Franklin and Malad are consistent with the average statewide decrease," he wrote in an email to FOX 13.

It has been reported that nearly 20 percent of Idaho's lottery ticket sales come from border stores.


Evanston Chamber of Commerce director Dawn Darby thinks Utahns are choosing less of a drive.

"People are definitely deciding to come to Evanston to purchase their lottery tickets and we're ecstatic for that," she told FOX 13.

While the Wyoming Lottery said it cannot track if ticket sales are driven by Utahns, Darby noted that the town's sales tax revenues have increased over the last eight months. She said businesses have reported more people eating at restaurants and shopping at their stores.

One thing Evanston hasn't seen, Darby said, is a cut of the ticket sales that they are supposed to receive. Wyoming Lottery is still paying off debts from starting up.

Lottery tickets on sale at a Maverik store in Evanston, Wyo., on August 13, 2015. (Photo by Ben Winslow)

Lottery tickets on sale at a Maverik store in Evanston, Wyo., on August 14, 2015. (Photo by Ben Winslow)

At a Maverik convenience store in Evanston, Tyler Lancaster said he sees an increasing number of Utah license plates in the parking lot.

"We've had to add a fourth register in the store to keep up with the people," he said. "Early in the morning until late at night, just all people. Just a straight line of lottery."