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I used a lottery concierge service to buy a US lottery ticket online. I am not a US citizen. In the unlikely event of my winning, can I claim the prize if I come to the US and have the ticket with me? Would it be illegal in any way?

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    If the e-mails I frequently get are any indication then no. You would instead have to find some kindly person that would send you their bank details and split the funds with them in return for their help.
    – user12515
    Feb 2, 2015 at 16:04
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    I think the question should probably be non-resident and not non-citizen. I don't think a British citizen living in the USA will have problems, and a US citizen living in Britain will have the same problems.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 3, 2015 at 11:39

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I checked California's lottery. Their claim form simply states that you must declare whether you are a citizen, US resident alien, or neither. If you're one of the first two, the California Lottery will withhold 25% for federal taxes. If you're neither, they will withhold 28%. If you do not declare one of these, they'll withhold 30%.

I don't have an easy way to grab the exact link, but the form is available on the California Lottery website.

I do not know if the same information holds true for multi-state lotteries like PowerBall.

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  • multistate lotteries are handled by the state lotteries in each state. However, the problem here is that the ticket is illegally obtained and as such is not valid.
    – littleadv
    Feb 3, 2015 at 4:10
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    That may be meant to cover tourists buying lottery tickets while in the USA.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 3, 2015 at 11:41
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No, you cannot. Selling (and buying) remotely, or even bringing in your luggage lottery tickets cross-borders is a Federal crime punishable by up to two years in prison. Exceptions exist where there's an explicit agreement to allow that between the States which borders you're crossing (which, for the Federal border, are none).

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  • (This is because a lottery is gambling, and gambling is illegal under Federal law when applicable, e.g., across state lines - same as how it's illegal to play online poker for money.)
    – Joe
    Feb 2, 2015 at 17:30
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    I don't see how that follows. Say the service is legit and mails the physical tickets to the OP before the draw. The draw happens and the OP buys a plane ticket to the US, then appears wherever it is one appears to cash in a winning ticket. Regardless of whether having someone buy that ticket remotely is legal or not will the OP be able to cash the ticket? Or will the place ask for proof of residency, or in other ways interfere with the cashing of the winning ticket? Feb 2, 2015 at 17:36
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    It's far from clear that getting someone else to buy your lottery tickets is equivalent to 'selling lottery tickets'. Otherwise every time someone sent their husband to pick up a tickets it would be a federal offence. Feb 3, 2015 at 1:33
  • @DJClayworth corrected.
    – littleadv
    Feb 3, 2015 at 4:09
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    @KateGregory the service cannot both be legit and mail the physical ticket. The latter is illegal and thus contradicts the former. Even if the ticket is not fraudulent by itself - it was acquired illegally and thus invalidated.
    – littleadv
    Feb 3, 2015 at 4:12

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