Can a Canadians Win American Lottery Jackpots?

Why American Lottery Jackpot Becoming so Big, and Can Canadians Win Them?

One story you might have been hearing about lately involves how major lottery jackpots in the United States keep growing in value. There have been many high-value jackpots in Canada, with the highest Lotto 6/49 jackpot being worth $54.3 million in 2005. But the maximum jackpot for Lotto 6/49 is $70 million, meaning there’s only a certain amount of money people in Canada can win.

There are no limits over how much people in the United States can win. In November 2022, the Powerball lottery game had a jackpot of $2.04 billion USD or $2.73 billion CAD, which entailed a cash value after taxes of nearly $1 billion USD. There have been five other times when a lottery jackpot in the country went past $1 billion as of January 2023.

It is no surprise that many Canadians have been paying attention to these jackpots, with many willing to cross the border into the United States to buy tickets. But why are these jackpots becoming so valuable? And more importantly, can a Canadian actually win?

Can a Canadian Win One of These Jackpots?

The most important question for Canadians surrounding these American lottery jackpots entails whether they can win them. The good news is that people in Canada can legally buy Powerball or Mega Millions tickets in any American state or territory where these tickets are available.

A person can buy a ticket so long as that someone is of the legal age to purchase that ticket. The minimum age is 18 in most places, but it is 19 in Nebraska.

This rule applies mainly to people in the United States. For example, people in Alabama, Utah, or Nevada could travel to other states to buy Powerball or Mega Millions tickets. Those three states are the only ones on the mainland that do not have lotteries as of January 2023.

But this term could also apply to Canadian residents. A resident of Ontario could travel to Michigan or New York to acquire a ticket, for example.

Do Taxes Apply To Canadian Winners?

You would still be subject to federal and state taxes if you were to win a major prize in an American lottery. For example, a Canadian who buys a ticket in Minnesota would have to pay federal American taxes and Minnesota state taxes. These rules are the same as those for any American citizen who bought a ticket in that state. Read our complete Canadian Taxes on Gambling Guide.

Could You Buy a Ticket Online?

Some places might offer Powerball or Mega Millions tickets for sale online, but it is strongly recommended you avoid buying one of these tickets online. The Multi-State Lottery Association, the organization that runs these two games, does not endorse or support any group that claims to offer tickets outside the United States. Such programs could potentially be scams, plus it might be hard for a group to pay out if you win a substantial prize.

The only safe way for a Canadian to buy a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket is to go across the border and buy it from a participating retailer in the United States.

So Why Are These Jackpots Growing?

It is striking how Powerball and Mega Millions have such high jackpots. But there are many good reasons why these jackpots keep rising:

So Why Are These Jackpots Growing?

It is striking how Powerball and Mega Millions have such high jackpots. But there are many good reasons why these jackpots keep rising:

  1. People can play these games in more places – Powerball and Mega Millions are available in 45 states each. Alabama, Utah, Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii are the only states where the game is unavailable. Mega Millions is also available in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while Powerball is open in the USVI and Puerto Rico. Since it’s possible for more people to play the game, the prize pool will continue to increase and produce a massive jackpot.
  2. It costs $2 USD to play either of these games – Powerball and Mega Millions used to be available for $1 per draw, but the cost has gone to $2 in recent years.
  3. The number of balls for each game has changed, causing the jackpot chance to increase – Powerball initially started with 45 white balls and 45 red balls or Powerballs. A player would have to match all five white balls and the one Powerball to win. The odds of winning the jackpot then were 1 in about 55 million. But since 2015, the game has 69 white balls and 26 Powerballs. The change makes it harder for a player to win, as the jackpot odds are now 1 in nearly 292 million.

The same can also be said for Mega Millions. The game also requires players to pick five white numbers and one gold or Mega Ball. It started with 50 white balls and 25 Mega Balls and jackpot odds of 1 in 53 million. Since 2017, the game has had 70 white balls and 25 Mega Balls with a jackpot chance of 1 in 302.5 million.

Since the odds are increasingly high, it is possible for the jackpot to continue rising to exorbitant numbers.

Conclusion

Anyone in Canada can win Powerball or Mega Millions if they travel to the United States and buy a ticket. This option is the best way to buy a ticket, as the group that runs these two games does not endorse any group that claims to offer online ticket sales. The potential for the jackpot to keep rising is great, but be careful if you ever have an interest in acquiring a ticket.

Last Updated: January 11, 2024
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