By Randy Ray
The Minnesota Lottery recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The state-based lottery games program benefits state programs to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year, paying out around $375 million in winnings annually.
MN Lottery sells four games:
- Scratch-off tickets
- Draw games
- A progressive game called Minnesota Print-n-Play
- A raffle-style game called Minnesota Millionaire
The scratch-off tickets are traditional instant win card-based games where players scratch off special ink to reveal symbols that determine their winnings.
Minnesota’s draw lottery program includes four multi-jurisdictional games:
- Mega Millions
These multi-jurisdictional draw lottery games all cost $2 at a minimum to play, except for LottoAmerica which still has a $1 ticket available.
Minnesota Lottery also offers three state-based games:
- Northstar Cash
- Daily 3
- Gopher 5
These Minnesota-only games offer starting bets between $0.50 and $1.
Print-n-Play is an instant win game that allows bets in three different styles – bingo, crossword, and slots. This page covers what each of those means in greater detail below. For now, it’s enough to know that these are hybrid draw games that allow bets of $1, $3, and $5 each.
Minnesota Millionaire is a raffle-style game which is only drawn once a year on New Year’s Day. More details on how to play and what your odds of winning are below.
Thanks to the Minnesota Millionaire game, the state’s lottery page brags frequently about the program “making millionaires,” though further details about the number of big-prize winners aren’t highlighted on the state’s lottery site like you find with other larger lottery programs. If the state has been “making” even two millionaires a year (through the Minnesota Millionaire game) for the past fifteen years, that’s 30 millionaires right there.
The goal of this page is to offer a complete perspective on playing Minnesota Lottery games, from the state’s multiple scratch-off options to the local and multi-jurisdictional draw action and even a guide to the oddball raffle game played in the state.
This page covers details on every game’s return to player percentages and other odds information for Minnesota Lottery games that you can’t find anywhere else online. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of the game and benefit from plenty of practical lessons on where and how to buy MN Lottery tickets, with specific details on the sometimes-complicated process of cashing in your winnings.
The Concept of Return to Player and How it Applies to the Minnesota Lottery
The likelihood of winning any game of chance is shown using the mathematics of probability.
When casino games and other betting contests are compared, that comparison is made based on a metric known as “return to player.” The phrase return to player refers to a numerical estimate of the value of every dollar bet on a particular game. To calculate a game’s theoretical return to player, multiply the probability of an outcome occurring by the prize amount for that outcome, then add up the probability of each potential outcome and you have a game’s total expected return.
The word “theoretical” is used above for a reason – a game’s return to player (also known as RTP) is a long-term expectation based on the probability of winning a particular prize and the size of that payout. Over the short term, the outcome of a single lottery draw is based entirely on luck.
It’s only as you consider a large number of rounds of play that you’ll begin to see the pattern mirror the anticipated outcomes.
To put it another way, the more you play a game, the more likely your individual results will match the theoretical return to play figure.
Imagine a coin flip. Each flip of a coin can produce only two outcomes – heads or tails. Theoretically, you should see as many heads results as you see tails results. Over the short-term, however, you’re not likely to flip exactly five heads and five tails for every ten coin flips.
It’s only after thousands or even hundreds of thousands of rounds of flipping a coin that the mean begins to look like the math.
Another factor that affects our ability to speak intelligently about RTP when it comes to the lottery – the top prize for most draw lottery games fluctuates, as players claim prizes or long stretches of time pass with no wining claim.
That ever-changing top prize means the RTP is constantly changing with it. To deal with this odds headache, this Minnesota Lottery page will calculate return to player percentages based on the minimum jackpot for draw games that have progressive top prizes.
Minnesota Lottery Drawing Schedules
Minnesota Lottery lists drawing schedules for six of their games:
- Powerball – Every Wednesday and Saturday at 9:59 PM (sales cutoff is 9 PM)
- Mega Millions – Every Tuesday and Friday at 10 PM (sales cutoff is 9 PM)
- LottoAmerica – Wednesday and Saturday “after 10 PM” (sales cutoff is 9 PM)
- Gopher 5 – Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:17 PM (sales cutoff is 6:10 PM)
- Northstar Cash – Daily at 6:17 PM (sales cutoff is 6:10 PM)
- Daily 3 – Daily at 6:17 PM (sales cutoff is 6:10 PM)
A Guide to Minnesota Lottery Games
This page focuses mainly on Minnesota Lottery draw games. Draw games contain the most details and require the most coverage.
This page covers both instant win games and scratch-off tickets as well as offering some notes on Minnesota’s once-a-year raffle game. The coverage for those other lottery options is obviously going to be limited, simply because there’s less to say about those less-complex lottery offerings.
In this guide, find information about the ticket cost of each MN Lottery game, details on game odds and payouts that you won’t find anywhere else on the Internet, and coverage of game prizes, payouts, and other options.
Keep in mind that the provided information on lottery game RTPs comes with the understanding that changing jackpots and numbers of available scratch-off cards will affect the return to player for each game differently over time.
Northstar Cash is the workhorse of the Minnesota Lottery, a player favorite at least in part because it offers bettors the best odds of any draw game in the state. Bettors play by picking five numbers in a range between 1 and 31.
MN Lottery allows players to let Quick Pick select their numbers instead. Northstar Cash pays out for matches of two, three, four, or five numbers. The game’s jackpot pays out for a perfect five-number match only. Northstar Cash tickets are available at all the state’s thousands of lottery retailers. The game allows for multi-draw play for up to fourteen draws in a row.
Minnesota Lottery says that the overall odds of winning any cash prize on Northstar Cash are 1 in 6.
Below is a pay table based on the game’s minimum jackpot of $25,000. As the jackpot increases, the RTP figures change, generally sliding in the player’s favor.
- Match 5 numbers and win the jackpot, minimum $25,000. Odds are 1 in 169,911. RTP is 0.14%.
- Match 4 numbers and win $50. Odds are 1 in 1,307. RTP is 0.03%.
- Match 3 numbers and win $5. Odds are 1 in 52. RTP is 0.09%.
- Match 2 numbers and win $1. Odds are 1 in 7. RTP is 0.14%.
Daily 3 is Minnesota Lottery’s Pick-3 style game. Daily 3 offers eight different bet types and a variety of wager sizes between $0.50 and $5. Be aware that lottery attendants will have to enter bets larger than $1 by hand onto your ticket.
Here’s a guide to the eight bet types in MN Lottery’s Daily 3 lottery game:
- First Digit: Pick one number to play – to win, match the first number drawn.
- Front Pair: Pick two numbers to play -to win, match the first two numbers drawn in order.
- Back Pair: Pick two numbers to play – to win, match the last two numbers drawn in order.
- Straight: Pick three numbers to play – to win, match all three numbers drawn in order.
- 3-Way Box: Pick three numbers to play, 2 of which are the same number – to win, match all three numbers in any order.
- 6-Way Box: Pick three different numbers to play – to win, match all three numbers in any order.
- Straight/3-Way Box: Pick three numbers, 2 of which are the same number – to win, match all three numbers drawn in order. A smaller prize is available to bettors who match all three numbers in any order.
- Straight/6-Way Box: Pick three different numbers to play – to win, match all three numbers drawn in order. A smaller prize is available for the correct numbers drawn in any order.
Drawings for Daily 3 take place every day at 6:17 PM. Tickets for a given drawing day will cut off from sales at 6:10 PM on that day.
Here’s a basic paytable for a straight $1 bet on MN Lottery’s Daily 3 game:
- A straight bet pays $500 with odds of 1 in 1,000 for an RTP of 0.5%
- A straight/3-way box pays $330/$80 with odds of 1 in 1,000/1 in 333 for an RTP of 0.33%/0.24%
- A straight/6-way box pays $290/$40 with odds of 1 in 1,000/1 in 166 for an RTP of 0.29%/0.24%
- A back pair pays $50 with odds of 1 in 100 for an RTP of 0.5%
- A front pair pays $50 with odds of 1 in 100 for an RTP of 0.5%
- A first digit pays $5 with odds of 1 in 10 for an RTP of 0.5%
This is a classic $1 per ticket draw game that uses a draw of five numbers and nothing in the way of gimmicks.
This is the most standard lottery draw game in the Land of a Thousand Lakes, though the lottery commission consider Northstar Cash their go-to.
Either way, Gopher 5 has overall odds of winning of 1 in 12, which is decent for a statewide lottery draw game. Tickets matching 2, 3, 4, or 5 numbers pay out winnings. Only a ticket matching all 5 numbers can lay claim to the jackpot. In cases where multiple winning tickets claim the jackpot, the amount of the prize is split between winners.
The pay table below is based on the base game with a jackpot of the game’s minimum, which is $100,000:
- Match 5 numbers to win the jackpot, minimum $100,000. Odds are 1 in 1,533,939. RTP is 0.06%.
- Match 4 numbers to win a prize of $500. The odds are 1 in 7,304. RTP is 0.06%.
- Match 3 numbers to win a prize of $15. The odds are 1 in 178. RTP is 0.08%.
- Match 2 numbers to win a prize of $1. The odds are 1 in 13. RTP is 0.07%.
Minnesota Millionaire Raffle
This one is an oddball for state lottery programs – a once-a-year raffle with $10 tickets sold year-round in anticipation of a January 1st drawing. The game’s overall odds of winning are 1 in 56.81, much longer than you’d find on a typical scratch-off card or draw lottery game.
Bettors select six numbers and hope that those six numbers match the two six-number sets drawn for a $1 million prize. A total of 12,000+ prizes will be paid out in amounts between $50 and $1 million.
Here’s a paytable for the Minnesota Millionaire Raffle along with return to player details:
- The $1,000,000 prize has odds of 1 in 350,000, for an RTP of 2.8%.
- The $100,000 prize has odds of 1 in 140,000, for an RTP of 0.71%.
- The $25,000 prize has odds of 1 in 140,000, for an RTP of 0.71%.
- The $10,000 prize has odds of 1 in 70,000, for an RTP of 0.14%
- The $500 prize has odds of 1 in 7,000, for an RTP of 0.07%.
- The $100 prize has odds of 1 in 166.67, for an RTP of 0.59%.
- The $50 prize has odds of 1 in 87.50, for an RTP of 0.57%.
Based on this paytable, every $10 spent on a Minnesota Millionaire Raffle ticket returns about $0.55 to the bettor. That makes it a longshot bet – though, since it’s a once-a-year holiday-themed event, it’s more about chasing that top prize and participating in what’s become something of a state tradition.
Minnesota Scratch-Off Tickets
The Gopher State is home to 40 active scratch-off games. Scratch-off games in the state come in a specific range of costs:
Here’s a look at three popular scratch-off Minnesota Lottery games and some facts about them, as a representative sample of the state’s scratch lotto games library:
Cash Cannon – $1This is a $1 ticket that’s about as simple and traditional as scratch-off tickets in Minnesota get. You’re scratching in hopes of revealing a WIN symbol – when you do, you win the specific prize shown underneath.
Sometimes you get a 2X or 3X symbol along with the WIN symbol, in which case you’ve just won double or triple the prize shown. The game’s posted overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 3.79. Below is a detailed look at the Cash Cannon scratch-off paytable for the basic prize without any multipliers:
- The $1 prize gives you odds of 1 in 6.45 for an RTP of 15.5%.
- The $2 prize gives you odds of 1 in 14.82 for an RTP of 13.49%.
- The $5 prize gives you odds of 1 in 30.77 for an RTP of 16.2%.
- The $10 prize gives you odds of 1 in 399.85 for an RTP of 2.5%
- The $15 prize gives you odds of 1 in 400.15 for an RTP of 3.7%.
- The $20 prize gives you odds of 1 in 399.85 for an RTP of 5%
- The $30 prize gives you odds of 1 in 1,516.62 for an RTP of 1.9%
- The $50 prize gives you odds of 1 in 2,840.68 for an RTP of 1.7%
- The $100 prize gives you odds of 1 in 4,702.37 for an RTP of 2.1%
- The $5,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 693,600 for an RTP of 0.7%.
Added together, these numbers indicate that every $1 Cash Cannon ticket purchased will return about $0.62 to the bettor. Remember that the numbers change as tickets are claimed and the availability of certain prizes changes.
$500,000 Payday – $20Right in the middle of Minnesota Lottery’s scratch-off tickets price range, $500,000 Payday gives away its top prize right in the name. It’s common for more expensive scratch-off tickets to offer larger payouts, and the $500k prize for this ticket is among the highest at the $20 scratch-off ticket price point.
It’s a traditional match style game, where your goal is to match any of your numbers to any of the card’s winning numbers. You win the prize shown below any matching numbers. As with most high-dollar scratch-off tickets, there’s a multiplier chance, where if you reveal a 5x or 10x symbol, your prize is multiplied 5 or 10 times.
The game also includes a random $100 jackpot (the starburst symbol) which pays out $100 instantly. The rarest outcome is the starburst symbol labeled “Win All,” which means you win every prize on the card. The game’s posted overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 3.
The paytable below describes the odds and RTP for each of the game’s basic jackpots without any multipliers. The $100 prize odds have been altered to reflect the better odds of winning that prize due to the presence of starburst symbols. Note that the number of starburst symbols will drop over time due to claimed winning tickets. These figures are accurate as of the time of publication:
- The $20 prize gives you odds of 1 in 7.14 for an RTP of 2.8%.
- The $25 prize gives you odds of 1 in 20 for an RTP of 1.25%
- The $30 prize gives you odds of 1 in 25 for an RTP of 1.2%.
- The $45 prize gives you odds of 1 in 74.91 for an RTP of 0.6%.
- The $50 prize gives you odds of 1 in 25.01 for an RTP of 1.9%
- The $60 prize gives you odds of 1 in 199.36 for an RTP of 0.3%
- The $75 prize gives you odds of 1 in 265.01 for an RTP of 0.28%
- The $100 prize gives you odds of 1 in 25.81 for an RTP of 3.87%
- The $200 prize gives you odds of 1 in 1,025.76 for an RTP of 0.19%
- The $250 prize gives you odds of 1 in 1,974.85 for an RTP of 0.12%
- The $400 prize gives you odds of 1 in 1,586.07 for an RTP of 0.25%
- The $500 prize gives you odds of 1 in 4,669.82 for an RTP of 0.1%
- The $1,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 24,438.75 for an RTP of 0.04%
- The $2,500 prize gives you odds of 1 in 48,877.50 for an RTP of 0.05%
- The $5,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 73,316.25 for an RTP of 0.06%
- The $25,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 293,265 for an RTP of 0.08%
- The $50,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 366,581.25 for an RTP of 0.13%
- The $500,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 488,775 for an RTP of 1.02%
500X – $50
The most expensive scratch-off lottery game in the Gopher State is 500x, a traditional match game with a top prize of $100,000. If it strikes you as odd that a $50 ticket would have a top prize 5x lower than a $20 ticket, understand that 500X has better odds overall than any of the tickets in the $20 price point, and the game has larger instant win payouts and more frequent mid-range prizes as well.
To play 500X, your goal is to match your numbers to any of the card’s winning numbers. In that case, you win whatever prize is shown for that match. 500X is famous for its multipliers, which are 5X, 10X, 20X, 50X, 100X, and 500X, the game’s namesake.
Reveal the special “Win All” symbol and win every prize on the card. Below is the paytable for the game’s basic jackpots without considerations for multipliers:
- The $50 prize gives you odds of 1 in 5.99 for an RTP of 8.34%
- The $75 prize gives you odds of 1 in 7.79 for an RTP of 9.62%
- The $100 prize gives you odds of 1 in 23.89 for an RTP of 4.18%
- The $250 prize gives you odds of 1 in 221.10 for an RTP of 1.13%
- The $500 prize gives you odds of 1 in 421.58 for an RTP of 1.18%
- The $1,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 1,057.62 for an RTP of 0.94%
- The $2,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 24,325.20 for an RTP of 0.08%
- The $2,500 prize gives you odds of 1 in 12,162.60 for an RTP of 0.2%
- The $5,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 15,203.25 for an RTP of 0.32%
- The $10,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 8,108.40 for an RTP of 1.23%
- The $20,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 60,813 for an RTP of 0.32%
- The $25,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 24,325.2 for an RTP of 1.02%
- The $100,000 prize gives you odds of 1 in 12,162.6 for an RTP of 8.22%
Where to Buy Minnesota Lottery Tickets and Claim Prizes
Minnesota Lottery reports that around 3,100 retailers are licensed to sell their products. Browsing the list of top-performing lottery ticket retailers, it’s easy to see where most lottery tickets in the state are bought – small retailers like gas stations, liquors stores, and small grocers.
The most popular place to buy Minnesota Lottery tickets is also the most popular place to claim the game’s prizes – those small retail stores mentioned above. Any site that sells a Minnesota Lottery ticket can pay any prize of up to $599 as soon as you claim your winnings.
For winnings of $600 or more, you’re required to use the mail or show up face-to-face at Minnesota Lottery offices. According to the FAQ at Minnesota Lottery’s website, Minnesota Lottery recommends that winners claim prizes larger than $599 through the mail, due to COVID-19 restrictions and the fact that most employees now work remotely.
Claiming Minnesota Lottery Prizes by Mail
According to the game’s rules, prizes of “up to and including $50,000” can be claimed by mail. The site recommends you make a copy of the front and back of your winning ticket and send your claim form and ticket in via registered mail.
As for the claim form – if you’re claiming a prize of $600 or more, you’ll need to download, print, fill out, and send back this claim form along with your winning ticket to the address below:
Minnesota State Lottery
P.O. Box 131000
Roseville, MN 55113
Where Does Minnesota Lottery Money Go?
All state lotteries in America are designed to benefit specific state programs. Most states are education-focused, sending lottery profits to public schools and universities. Other states use lottery profits to support pension plans for cops and firefighters or provide health care for teachers and child care workers.
Where does Minnesota Lottery send the money it makes from losing tickets?
The Gopher State provides more detail to the public than other state lottery programs. This state’s approach to lottery gains is to spread them around much wider than other big lottery states.
As a result, there’s no real focus. This isn’t an “education lottery” so much as it is a lottery that benefits the state’s general fund.
Here’s the information available from publicly available documents and presentations by Minnesota Lottery:
- $0.20 of every dollar spent on lottery games goes to the state General Fund
- $1.8 million of profits are earmarked each year to go directly to combatting problem gambling
- $29 million each year is sent to projects that preserve the state’s natural resources
- 62.2% of money spent on lottery tickets goes directly to the game’s winners
- Lottery vendors like gas stations and liquor stores earn about $0.07 for every dollar spent on MN Lottery games, in exchange for promotion and sales of tickets
Minnesota Lottery History
The 80s and 90s were important decades in American lottery history. Between 1980 and 2000, almost half the country added some form of draw lottery game. Minnesota’s lottery program came right in the middle of that period of heavy growth for lotto games.
Voters approved the constitutional amendment necessary to authorize lottery games on Election Day in 1988. It wasn’t as clear cut a vote as those in Texas or New Jersey, with just 57 percent of voters deciding in favor of running state-based lottery contests.
It took a year and a half for legislators to work out their differences – the first lottery draw game took place on April 17th, 1990. First-day sales were encouraging – $5 million. The first week was generally strong, with sales figures topping $15 million after just seven days.
With that kind of interest behind it, the lottery took off, paying back a controversial $8.5 million startup loan in less than eight weeks.
Thanks to the introduction of new games and ways to bet, as well as the state’s participation in the multi-jurisdictional games Powerball, Mega Millions, LottoAmerica and Lucky4Life, modern lottery sales are just as strong as when the program launched, bolstered by a wider variety of games and ways to play. Last year, MN Lottery sales topped $600 million.
Contact the Minnesota Lottery
You can find complete contact details on the official site: https://www.mnlottery.com/contact-us
Here is the current mailing address and phone number for the main office of the Minnesota Lottery:
2645 Long Lake Road
Roseville, MN 55113
Minnesota Lottery offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am-4:30pm. Be aware that you can only cash in tickets worth $600 or more at this location, and no lottery products are sold on-site.
Social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic are still in place in Minnesota, so only one customer is allowed in the office at a time, and the state lottery’s site recommends you call at the number listed above to make an appointment. The same is true for all Minnesota Lottery offices, including the regional branches listed below.
Regional Minnesota Lottery Offices
The state’s main lottery office is in the Minneapolis municipal area, which is out of reach for lots of lottery customers in terms of sheer distance. The state operates four regional branches, each of which can perform the same duties as the main branch in terms of cashing tickets. Minnesota Lottery’s website advises that you call any regional branch before visiting, as operating hours may vary.
Here’s a list of addresses and phone numbers for each of the four regional branches of the Minnesota Lottery:
Southern Minnesota Branch
205 Cedardale Drive
Owatonna, MN 55060
This branch is open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, closed from noon to 1 PM for a lunch break.
Western Minnesota Branch
1641 Highway 10 W
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
This branch is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, closed from noon to 1 PM for a lunch break.
Southwestern Minnesota Branch
750 West College Drive
Marshall, MN 56258
This branch is open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, closed from noon to 1 PM for a lunch break.
Northeastern Minnesota Branch
130 Chestnut Street
Virginia, MN 55792
This branch is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 4 PM, closed from noon to 1 PM for a lunch break.
Minnesota Lottery performs out of proportion to the size of its state. Though Minnesota is on the smaller side in terms of number of citizens, its lottery is popular and lucrative for various state programs meant to protect and beautify what’s most important to Minnesotans. Hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into this system each year, which leads to big payments to groups protecting the lakes, rivers, and streams that make Minnesota famous.
Minnesota Lottery games aren’t available in the huge variety you’ll find in more populous states like Texas, Florida, or New Jersey. Those hotbeds of lottery play don’t earn significantly more per capita than the proud Minnesota Lottery.
Dedicated players make the Minnesota game a model for other mid-range states. Lottery games make a nice complement to existing casino gaming options in the Land of a Thousand Lakes.