Powerball dreams, Canada? A U.S. law could get in the way

A little-known U.S. law is creating confusion for Canadians crossing the border to purchase tickets for the record Powerball lottery jackpot draw.

See Full Article

Like thousands of other Canadians, Lisa Yuen, a resident of Burnaby, B.C., headed across the border last week, to buy tickets ahead of the last Powerball draw held Saturday.

But Yuen was surprised when she received a strict warning from a U.S. border guard, about a law of which she'd never heard.

"We got a bit of a lecture from the border guard, saying that you can buy a ticket, but you can't take it back into Canada and then come back to the United States," she told CTV Vancouver.

U.S. law does not forbid foreigners from buying tickets or winning the lottery, and according to the Powerball website, "You do not have to be a citizen or a resident to play the game. You can be a tourist."

But if a Canadian buys a ticket, takes it home, and then tries to bring it back into the United States, they risk violating a law that forbids importing "immoral articles."

According to the law, "all persons are prohibited from importing into the United States from any foreign country any … lottery ticket, or any printed paper that may be used as a lottery ticket, or any advertisement of any lottery."

The same law also forbids importing material that advocates for or urges treason, or threatens to take the life of or inflict bodily harm upon any person in the U.S.

And though the lottery section of the rules may seem obscure, Yuen wasn't the first Canadian to run into the issue.

In December, U.S. border guards seized nine B.C. lottery tickets from a man trying to cross the border, and confiscated his Nexus card during the incident.

Ahead of the Powerball draw Wednesday, for a jackpot estimated to be at least US$1.4 billion, the rule is raising questions for lottery players and officials on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

"It is concerning," Jana Jones, the director of legal services at Washington's Lottery, said. "It appears the Washington border patrol is not allowing Canadians to bring (tickets) back in."

When asked if border officials would be able to seize a jackpot-winning ticket, she replied "It appears so."

Still, the law isn't stopping thousands of Canadians from trying their luck.

After buying $34 worth of tickets in her cross-border trip last week, Yuen said that, for her, the $1.4B jackpot is worth the risk.

"It's a chance I'm willing to take," she said.

With files from CTV Vancouver


Latest Canada & World News

  • Afghanistan: Car bomb near stadium kills 12, says official

    World News CTV News
    KABUL -- An official says in says 12 people have been killed and 40 others wounded in a car bombing outside a sports stadium in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Aminullah Abed, the chief of the province's public health department, in Helmand province said the 12 killed and 40 wounded were received at a hospital in Lashkar Gha on Friday. Source
  • Smoky condo fire in Vietnam kills at least 13, injures 28

    World News CTV News
    HANOI, Vietnam -- Residents startled awake by loud noise and smoke signalled for help with lit mobile phones and crawled onto cranes from their balconies to escape a fire Friday at a large condominium complex in southern Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. Source
  • EU nations plan 'additional steps' against Moscow over nerve agent attack

    World News CBC News
    European Union member states agreed at a summit in Brussels to take further punitive steps against Russia in the coming days for the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, U.K., as Moscow accused the bloc of joining a London-driven hate campaign against it. Source
  • U.S. Congress invites Mark Zuckerberg to testify at future Facebook user data hearing

    World News CBC News
    ?The leaders of the U.S. House energy and commerce committee on Friday wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailing new concerns about the social media company's use of data and formally requesting that he testify at a future hearing. Source
  • Trump says he is 'considering' veto of $1.3 trillion budget

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump cast doubt on whether he would back a US$1.3 trillion spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown Friday, saying he was "considering" a veto over concerns about young "Dreamer" immigrants and border wall money. Source
  • Austrian lawmakers vote against smoking ban in restaurants and bars

    World News CBC News
    Austria's lower house of parliament voted to scrap an impending ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, backing the coalition government despite opposition from health campaigners and opposition parties. The ban is due to come into effect in May and would bring Austria more into line with fellow European Union countries, many of which have far stricter smoke-free legislation, including Britain, Hungary and Bulgaria. Source
  • China urges U.S. to 'pull back from the brink' on trade as tensions rise

    World News CBC News
    China has urged the United States to "pull back from the brink" as U.S. President Donald Trump's plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion US in Chinese goods, while events in the South China Sea and at the United Nations suggest a broader pattern of worsening relations. Source
  • B.C. man to meet birth mother for the first time thanks to DNA test

    Canada News CTV News
    On the day that Michael Henry Ponic turned 50 in 2016, his wife’s birthday gift filled him with dread. She had bought him a DNA online testing kit so he could try to find his birth mother. Source
  • Toronto's giant pandas are on the move: Bears travelling to new home at Calgary Zoo

    Canada News CTV News
    They’ve settled into their custom crates and they’re ready for takeoff. Toronto’s beloved pandas are saying goodbye. On Friday morning, the four bears began their journey to their new home at the Calgary Zoo. Source
  • Inflation heats up to 2.2% in February as energy and food prices spike

    Canada News CBC News
    The cost of living went up at a 2.2 per cent annual pace in February, its highest level since 2014, mainly because of a sharp increase in the price of energy. Statistics Canada reported Friday that the inflation rate rose to a 2.2. Source