Lowdown on Minnesota Shutdown

Iowa Lottery sales benefit; c-store sales up with rest area closures

NORTHWOOD, Iowa -- Sales of Iowa Lottery tickets at retail stores along the Minnesota border are getting a boost from Minnesota's government shutdown, according to a report by The Des Moines Register. State offices in Minnesota have been closed since July 1 because Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature have failed to reach agreement on a new state budget.

The shutdown includes the sales of Minnesota Lottery tickets. The state lottery posted the following announcement on its website: "Due to the current government shutdown, the Minnesota State Lottery [image-nocss] is closed and this website is not being maintained. No Lottery tickets may be sold or winning tickets redeemed until further notice. Please sign any winning tickets and retain in a secure location." (Click here for more details.)"We have checked with locations in a few different communities that are along the major highways that run between Iowa and Minnesota, and stores there are seeing an increase in Iowa Lottery sales," Iowa Lottery vice president Mary Neubauer told the newspaper.

The Jo Stop convenience store along Interstate Highway 35 near Northwood, Iowa, which is just south of Albert Lea, Minn., has seen lottery sales running at two to three times normal, said the report. The North Star Express, another Northwood-area c-store, reported lottery sales up 25%, Neubauer added.

A Casey's General Store in Estherville, Iowa, has reported a 30% increase in instant-scratch and lotto sales since the Minnesota shutdown, while a Kum & Go store in Spirit Lake, Iowa, reported about a 25% increase, Neubauer said.

And Minnesota's 65 full-service rest areas are quiet--closed because of the shutdown. Orange barricades are forcing travelers to take their breaks at c-stores instead.

"It's just great for us," Interstate Cenex manager Smitty Ektnitphong, in Worthington, Minn., told KELOLAND-TV. He said business at his Worthington Cenex is up nearly 20% from the same time last year.

Gasoline sales remain the same, but inside the store it was a different story, said the report. The shelves were stocked last Thursday, but only after an emergency order to the snack suppliers, the report added.

"Pretty much almost everything on the shelves sold out, so it is just amazing," Ektnitphong told the news outlet.

Ektnitphong said many travelers are coming into the store mainly to use the restroom. And when customers come they are not leaving empty handed.

"Normally we would have enough stuff to last about 10 days," he said. "But in four days, it was all gone. It just caught me by surprise."

In Adrian, Minn., the manager at a Kum & Go told KELOLAND-TV that he is seeing more customers, too.

Click hereto view BeReadyMN.com, the state of Minnesota's website about the shutdown.