Can Non-US Residents Play to Win the Lottery?
Are you eligible to win the lottery if you don’t live in the US?
Have you ever wondered who’s eligible to play the lottery in the United States?
Here are some common questions about buying lottery tickets:
- Can you buy tickets if you aren’t a US resident, but want to win one of those huge lottery jackpots?
- Can you buy US lottery tickets if you’re a citizen or a resident of a foreign country?
- Can you cross state lines to buy lottery tickets?
- What if you don’t have legal permission to be in the United States? Will you be able to claim the prize money if you win?
Here’s everything you need to know about who can and can’t play the lottery in the United States.
Who Can Play Mega Millions, Powerball, and Other US Lotteries?
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 (you have to be at least 18 to play), adults can buy tickets in any state which offers the lottery even if you’re not a United States citizen, if you don’t live in the state selling the ticket, or even if you don’t live in the country at all.
Of course, since non-US residents are eligible to buy the tickets, they’re 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 must be withheld from your winnings. If you do win, be sure to consult with a tax professional for more information.
If you’re trying to enter a lottery other than the Powerball or Mega-Millions games, check the rules before you enter for eligibility information.
Can you Buy US Lottery Tickets from Outside of the United States?
While non-US residents can enter and win the lottery, there’s a caveat: You have to actually be in the country to legally buy US lottery tickets. It’s illegal to buy lottery tickets over the internet or by mail — with some rare exceptions, such as a lottery app run by a company that sends an employee to physically buy tickets for its customers.
This’s important to keep in mind because many lottery scams trick people into believing that they’ve won lotteries from foreign countries. You can only win a foreign lottery if you bought a ticket while you were in that country. If you didn’t, you can throw those scam win notices away.
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. Doing an internet search for the company’s name together with the word “scam” is a good first step.
Can an Undocumented Alien Win a US Lottery?
Because 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.
For example, in 2011 Jose Antonio Cua-Toc won a $750,000 lottery and was afraid to claim it because he didn’t have a 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’re an undocumented immigrant and you have a winning lottery ticket, you should consult a legal professional before claiming your prize.
Can Felons Win Lottery Jackpots in the United States?
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, a sex offender 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.
Many people were horrified to think that a sex offender could receive such an enormous prize. On the article linked above, Toni Tommas commented that it “Almost makes me question the existence of God.”
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.
There is a bright side to a felon winning a lottery jackpot, however; It might give the victims a way to be compensated for damages or restitution in a civil trial. It’s hard for a felon to claim he or she can’t pay when they have publicly won a lottery jackpot.Who is eligible to buy US lottery tickets? Can a non-US resident claim a Powerball or MegaMillions lottery? What about illegal immigrants?
Advice for winners
you claimed your prize?
Here is information you can use as soon as you have your cheque in hand:
Lady Luck has smiled on you
Have you claimed your prize? Congratulations! You are one of our many winners.
Everything has happened so fast that you are surely feeling a whole range of emotions. You probably have a lot of questions. That’s absolutely normal. After all, we don’t win the lottery every day. The information in this section is designed to guide you in making decisions about your win.
After having celebrated your big win, are you now considering making your dreams come true, carrying out some projects, investing or making donations?
You’ll surely want to put your prize to the best use possible. Before making any decisions, here is some basic information:
- Remember that you are completely free to use your winnings as you see fit.
- Consult Where to find advice
- Get information about Your prize and financial concerns
- Read Winners’ experiences
Publicity surrounding your win
We are pleased to celebrate our winners!
Many people try their luck playing the lottery. It’s only normal to want to find out about winners. Haven’t you ever been curious about who took home the big prize?
Today, it’s your turn, and the media is interested in you because you are part of the day’s good news!
A prize, a face, a story
By signing your ticket, you agree to allow Loto-Québec to publish, if it deems it appropriate, your name, region and photo. That is a condition of participating in the game and allows Loto-Québec to publicize prizes that were won. It is a fundamental question of transparency.
Your winnings may be broadcast on our website, our office intranet, digital screens located in our different points of sale, billboards or other outdoor advertising as well as on any other communications network, including social media.
As a winner, you will benefit from a personalized welcome by our customer service department. You may be asked to take part in a photo session and a brief interview about the circumstances surrounding your win. The following rules apply to the photo session:
- The winner’s face must be uncovered
- Overt theatrics are not permitted
- Loto-Québec may require photo ID to confirm the winner’s identity.
If a winner refuses to comply with these rules, Loto-Québec reserves the right to suspend prize payment. The same rules apply to prizes claimed by mail, for which winners may be required to go to a designated Loto-Québec establishment.
A short video of the story of your win might be made.
A copy of the photos and video, if any, will be provided to you so you will have a keepsake of your experience.
Some of the information gathered may be used to write a press release that is sent to the media.
The Corporation may reveal information concerning winners at the appropriate time. Aside from the winner’s name, region and photograph, any information released will be general in nature.
Our customer service staff provides winners with guidance. In addition to receiving advice and documentation, new winners may contact a customer service staff member.
The staff member who greets each major prize winner will place a follow-up call one month later to enquire how the winner is adjusting to their new life.
Meeting the media
Loto-Québec may organize a meeting with media depending on the amount of the prize and as the situation warrants.
Our customer service team will explain in advance the advantages of such a meeting and how it unfolds. In addition, you may count on our personnel to provide assistance to ensure a pleasant experience with journalists, both when you meet the media and when you claim your prize.
It’s quite normal that your win attracts attention, but rest assured that the news stories generally have a very short lifespan.
Should the media ask us to provide information in order to follow up with prize winners regarding their experience, we contact the winners ourselves first to make any arrangements.
Social media and your win
When you use social media, prudence and vigilance are always wise choices.
Be particularly careful about the information you share and be vigilant when you receive friend requests from people you don’t know or who say they know you.
Where to find advice
Your hopes, needs and situation combine to make your winner’s experience unique. We are well aware of that, and that’s why our suggestions remain general.
Major prize winners do not generally change their lifestyles from one day to the next.
We have two suggestions for you:
- Give yourself some time to think things through before making decisions.
- Once you’ve made up your mind, seek the services of reputable accredited professionals from established organizations.
Where to start
We recommend that you deposit your cheque at your bank branch, not at an ATM.
One suggestion, which is both prudent and profitable, would be to deposit your check in a short-term certificate of deposit. Doing so gives you time to reflect while your winnings grow, as these certificates generally offer better interest rates than a regular savings account.
Should your cheque be lost or stolen, just contact us. We will take the necessary steps to stop payment on the cheque and issue you a new one.
Who does what?
Loto-Québec does not provide financial planning advice, as it is not part of our mandate. However, we can certainly help winners by informing them about the kind of expertise they may wish to seek out. Many resources offering sound advice are at your disposal:
- Accountant or financial planner
- Notary (in French only)
- Financial institutions, banks, credit unions, savings and credit cooperatives, and trust corporations
Get information about the services offered by your financial institution and other institutions. Compare the interest rates of different types of investments in effect at the various institutions.
Ask about their fees. Fees at trust corporations can be negotiable, depending on the size of your portfolio and the services rendered.
Whatever your decision, we recommend you monitor your investments closely.
Managing the change
You have won a large amount of money. It is both a unique and exhilarating experience.
This important and happy change in your life will certainly result in some strong emotions. Not only will you be able to pamper yourself and your loved ones, you will be able to make your dreams come true.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice and take advantage of any employee assistance program that may be available from your employer or go to see a psychologist. These professionals will listen to you and provide guidance to help you better manage your new life.
Thousands of people before you have won large lottery prizes, and their experience could be useful to you.
Ask for expert advice
Don’t hesitate to ask experts for advice: accountants, financial planners, lawyers, notaries (in French only), tax experts, bank managers and psychologists are all professionals who can offer good advice.
It will be up to you to determine what services you need, choose the professional who will provide you with advice and ask about their fees for such services.
Two winners’ experiences
A man wins a $500,000 grand prize playing Roue de fortune chez vous!
“After winning that big prize, I did something I’ve wanted to do for many years: travel to Europe.
When I got back, I consulted my financial adviser for advice on starting my own business, making investments and buying a condo, part of which I’m now using for my new business.”
A woman wins a $5,000,000 grand prize at Célébration
“When I won that prize, I couldn’t believe it. I only really took it all in when I received a cheque made out to my name for $5 million.
In the following weeks, I received many calls and e-mails from members of my family who, for the most part, were happy for me. However, some people were somewhat envious. I was not comfortable with that situation and a lot of questions came to mind. I felt the need to speak to someone who would be objective. That’s why I went to see a psychologist. He helped me not only sort things out, but also manage this happy change in my life.”
Meet your real needs
Take advantage of this influx of money to ensure your peace of mind. Do everything you can to meet real needs without creating new ones. It’s the best way to simply treat yourself, or treat yourself differently or more often.
One winner’s experience
A $500,000 Lotto Max winner finally makes his dream come true
“When I learned that I had won a half million dollars, I immediately planned to make a long-time dream come true: take flying lessons. Other than that indulgence, my lifestyle has not changed much.
Both my wife and I wanted to continue working, but we reduced the number of hours spent on the job. We decided to invest for our retirement, renovate our home and occasionally treat ourselves.”
Learn to say no
Loto-Québec never publicly discloses a winner’s address, telephone number or any other personal information.
You may still be solicited by individuals or organizations in the days and weeks following your win.
An unlisted telephone number can certainly prevent strangers from contacting you, but you might have to learn to say no to people who know you or who claim to know you. Don’t forget that you are entirely free to do what you want with your money.
One winner’s experience
A man wins a $2,401,053 jackpot with Lotto 6/49
“In the weeks following my win, I was happily surprised that I didn’t get any calls from insurance, heat pump or gadget salespeople. I’m sure that my unlisted number and the caller display function on my phone made all the difference.
I did receive, however, several messages on social media. Most were congratulations from people I know and some that I hadn’t heard from in years. I also received a request for financial assistance that I refused after talking to my accountant.”
Stay true to yourself
It’s quite natural to view your future differently when you win a big prize, but don’t change what’s already good in your life. Instead, identify what can improve your well-being in the short, medium and long term. That way, you will get the most out of your good fortune.
You may be surprised by some people’s attitude towards you. If their attitude change stems from envy, there’s little you can do about it. They may imagine that your win has changed you. Behave as you’ve always have, and the people around you will come to recognize that your good fortune has not changed your personality or the nature of your ties to others.
Three winners’ experiences
A couple takes home $1,205,432 thanks to Lotto 6/49
“We often say that we are very ordinary millionaires! It was certainly a shock to learn that we’d won more than a million dollars. My husband and I quickly got our feet back on the ground and, as we’d promised ourselves, we didn’t do anything crazy. We didn’t move to another neighbourhood or overly spoil our children, and kept the same friends. The only indulgence was that my husband purchased a trailer-truck to work for himself.
We felt that everything should remain as it was before. We wanted to maintain our values and simplicity. As soon as we received the cheque, we went to meet our bank manager and hired an accountant. Our newfound financial security is very reassuring and feels good!”
Five members of a family share a $1,136,712 from Lotto 6/49
“My husband and I welcomed that nice influx of cash. We were simple people before we won, and we have remained so. Of course, we shared some with our family and have allowed ourselves a few luxuries here and there. Overall, our lifestyle has not changed much.”
A young couple buy a Québec 49 ticket and win $2,000,000
“We had no desire to move to another home or quit our jobs in the short term. We like what we do and, at our age, we feel that being productive is an important part of our lives. The win will allow us to have a comfortable retirement, help our children pursue their education, travel and spoil ourselves. We will take the time to savour this pleasant change.”
Don’t rush to make decisions
While still experiencing the initial state of euphoria, winners of major prizes of may make impulsive promises to people around them. Envy can drive some members of the winner’s family to harbour unreasonable expectations.
Don’t rush to make decisions. Take the time to think before making commitments. Then, if you still want to share your prize with those closest to you, consider doing so progressively and when it suits you.
One winner’s experience
Eight co-workers share $1,300,000 thanks to Lotto 6/49
“Four members of our group retired immediately. I kept my job because I like my work and I’m too young to live off my lottery winnings alone. My wife, however, was able to leave her job to stay home and care for the children. My life on the job hasn’t really changed, except that I’m asked to pay a round of coffee and donuts a little more often. Some members in the group said they regret having too quickly distributed part of the money to family members.”
Make your own choices
Don’t let others exercise undue pressure on you or make decisions for you. Even with the best intentions, people can be wrong about what is in your best interest. Take the time to think it out and get expert advice, but be sure to make your own choices.
One winner’s experience
A winner is $200,000 richer thanks to Banco
“The moment I won, everybody had an opinion on how I should use my $200,000. except me! There were many ideas: I should leave my job, spend two months down south, get all new furniture for my home. After thinking about it for three months, I came to the conclusion I should just listen to myself. That win was mine, and I would do with it as I please. So, what did I do in the end? After talking to my accountant, I paid off some small debts, spoiled my family a little and invested the remainder – most of it – so I could retire comfortably at 50 years old and finance my daughter’s education. That was my decision!”
Stay active and pursue hobbies
Look at your win as an opportunity to spend time doing the things you love.
If you win a large enough prize to ensure complete financial security, spend more time on your hobbies and interests, or develop new ones, and always stay active, even if it’s volunteer work. That way, you can remain grounded. There is much truth in the saying that being active keeps you healthy!
One winner’s experience
Convenience store customers share a $25 million jackpot thanks to Lotto Max
“I’ve always said that, if I were to win a lot of money, I’d use it to go into business for myself. And that’s what I did with my $2.5 million share of a Lotto Max jackpot! I am really too young to retire. And I know myself: I need to be active and do stuff. Now I get to do what I planned earlier than expected. I am now an entrepreneur. I no longer have a boss, and I carry out projects that interest me: I’m the happiest man in the world! The win also allowed my wife to change careers. Other members of the group stopped working from one day to the next, saying that was what millionaires did. For the first few weeks, they had the time of their lives. But that got old really quickly. I am pleased with the decisions I made.”
Enjoy your winnings to the fullest
There are no user instructions for what to do with money, whether it comes from a lottery win or the fruit of your work. To each his own.
Similarly, there are no hard and fast rules as to how you should handle your winnings. Some decide to make dreams come true, others feel more comfortable making wise investments. Still others combine both those ideas. A number of options are available to you. Once you know what you want, don’t hesitate to go for it.
Two winners’ experiences
A couple wins a $1 million grand prize with Extra
“I’ve been fully enjoying my win since the beginning! I finally bought the car I’ve always dreamt of and now go to the hairdresser’s much more often! No, my husband and I did not invest all our winnings. We wanted to take full advantage of it while we’re still healthy enough to do so. To date, we took a trip to Hawaii and another to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World. We gave some money to our children and have done some renovations to our home.”
A couple wins a $75,000 jackpot with Québec 49
“We bought a new car, as ours was really old, and put a swimming pool in the backyard. We don’t feel we went overboard with our spending. But money goes so quickly! Should we have made different decisions? Perhaps a few.
If we were to do it over, we’d spread our purchases over a few years rather make them all within the first year. We made practical decisions. Maybe we should have treated ourselves more.”
Being vigilant is always a good idea, especially if you are on social media. Be careful what information you post (what you’ve purchased, for example, a new home or vacation plans). Be wary of individuals who solicit you or ask for assistance.
One winner’s experience
A man takes home $1 million thanks to Lotto Max
“Following my win, I got several friend requests on my Facebook page. I didn’t accept them all, as some were from people I hardly knew and others were perfect strangers.”
View the Winners section to read or view other winners’ stories.Are you a lottery winner? Get valuable information you can use as soon as you have ]]>