United States is the number one country where thousands of people immigrate each year to stay, work or live. These people who are new to US are called Non-US residents which means they are not the citizen of US country and are living or residing as temporary residents or a citizen or resident of another country. It is always the curiosity of a Non-US resident to play lotteries in USA specially the popular lotto of Powerball and Mega Millions. Can you play such lotteries as a Non-US resident is a big question therefore for temporary residents and here are the answers to all such questions that you might have in mind if you are a non resident.
Powerball, Mega Millions and other US lotteries
As a Non-US resident you can buy US lottery tickets, win the Powerball and the Mega Millions lotteries, and collect your jackpot no matter what your US residence status is. While there is an age restriction as you have to be at least 18 to play, you can buy tickets in any state which offers the lottery even if you are not a United States citizen, or you don’t live in the state selling the ticket, or even if you don’t live in the country at all.
So since non-US residents are eligible to buy the tickets, they are also eligible to claim the prize money should they win. However, be aware that where you live will affect what happens when you win. For example, different states have different rules about whether lottery winners can remain anonymous. Countries outside of the United States have different laws about how lottery prizes are taxed and how much money is withheld from your winnings. If you do win, be sure to consult with a tax professional for more information.
If you are trying to enter a lottery other than the Powerball or Mega-Millions games, check the rules before you enter for eligibility information.
Buying US Lottery Tickets from outside of the United States
Remember that non-US residents can enter and win the lottery, and you have to actually be in the country to legally buy US lottery tickets. It is illegal to buy lottery tickets through the internet online or by mail.
This is important to keep in mind because many lotteries scam especially online trick people into believing that they have won lotteries from foreign countries. You can only win a foreign lottery if you bought a ticket while you were in that country.
There are also scam websites that will take your money and promise to buy lottery tickets for you. Approach these sites with caution and be sure to check the company out carefully before handing over any money. You can research for the company’s name together with the word “scam” is a good first step to find which lottery is secure to play.
Illegal Immigrant playing US lotteries
Illegal immigrants are those people who have landed in the US illegally and do not have proper documents that are required by law to immigrate to the US. As there are no residency restrictions about who can enter US lotteries, illegal immigrants can buy tickets and can claim their winnings. However, claiming the lottery winnings might make an illegal immigrant feel vulnerable to deportation.
If you recollect in 2011 Jose Antonio Cua-Toc won a $750,000 lottery and was afraid to claim it because he didn’t have legal residency status. When he asked his boss to claim it for him, the boss took the money for himself. However, winning the lottery might smooth the road to a green card. If you are an undocumented immigrant and you have a winning lottery ticket, you should consult a legal professional before claiming your prize.
Felons or criminals playing US lotteries
Committing a felony or crime makes you a Felon in US. Playing lottery as a Felon, rules vary from state to state, but in most cases, felons can legally buy lottery tickets and win jackpots.
In December of 2014, a story broke about Timothy Poole, who won over $2 million in the Florida Super Millions scratch-off lottery. Poole was convicted in 1999 of sexually battering a nine-year-old boy who was a friend of his family. Poole pleaded innocent but took a plea bargain, which included over a year in jail and registration as a sex offender.
The Florida Lottery doesn’t have any restrictions regarding the criminal background of the entrants, which means that Poole received a lump sum of $2,219,807.90.
While some people think it’s wrong that murderers and sex offenders can win millions from the state, others find it would be unfair to prevent someone from playing the lottery after they’ve paid for their crime and served their time.
Points to remember when playing the lottery as a Non-US resident
- The minimum age to legally play the lottery is 18 in most of the US states. But in few states you need to be 21 or 19 years of age like Arizona and Iowa require lottery players to be no less than 21 years old to purchase tickets while Nebraska requires lottery players to be no less than 19 years old to purchase tickets. Of course, if a resident was to travel to another state where the legal gambling age was 18, they could win and claim the prize.
- If you win a lottery in US you may or may not require an ID proof to claim the lottery prize. Again the rule varies from state to state, lottery game and prize amounts. Most prizes under $600 do not require any form of ID to claim the prize. Simply sign the back of your ticket and either take it to a lottery retailer or mail it into the appropriate lottery office and you’ll receive a check. For most prizes over $600, you may be required to show a form of government-approved photo ID such as a passport, driver’s license or state ID card as well as your social security card.
- All non-citizen lottery winners are required to follow not only federal law but also the law of the state in which they purchased the winning ticket. Non-U.S. resident lottery winners are required to pay a 30% federal tax and whatever the state tax is, which varies from state to state. Additionally, the winner may be required to pay tax from their own country of citizenship for the lottery prize winnings and may be subject to any current tax treaties between the United States and their country of citizenship.