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



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Texas power grid CEO fired after deadly February blackouts

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Texas' power grid manager was fired Wednesday amid growing calls for his ouster following February's deadly blackouts that left millions of people without electricity and heat for days in subfreezing temperatures. Bill Magness, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, becomes the second senior official to depart in the wake of the one of the worst blackouts in U.S. Source
  • Hong Kong democracy activists' court hearing enters 4th day

    World News CTV News
    HONG KONG -- A marathon court hearing for 47 democracy activists charged under Hong Kong's national security law entered its fourth day on Thursday, as the court deliberates whether the defendants will be granted bail. The mass case is the most sweeping action taken against the city's pro-democracy camp since the security law was implemented last June. Source
  • Vaughan, Ont. high school to be renamed after Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A school in Vaughan, Ont., will soon be renamed after late Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh, known for her courageous storytelling and passion for education. Trustees with the York Region District School Board voted on Tuesday night to change the name of Vaughan Secondary School, which originally honoured Benjamin Vaughan, a slaveholder in the 18th century. Source
  • New changes to Divorce Act 'a huge relief' for B.C. mother of girls murdered by father

    Canada News CBC News
    The mother of two girls who were murdered by their father on Christmas Day in 2017 in Oak Bay, B.C., says she is relieved to hear about new changes to Canada's Divorce Act recognizing the impact of family violence. "It was a huge relief for me," Sarah Cotton-Elliott said to CBC's Gregor Craigie during one of her first interviews since her daughters' deaths. Source
  • With Biden's backing, Dems pass bill aimed at preventing police misconduct

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats hustled Wednesday to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, able to avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. Source
  • Air Canada to offer refunds to passengers as part of potential bailout package: Source

    Canada News CBC News
    Air Canada has agreed to offer refunds to passengers who had their travel plans cancelled because of the pandemic as part of a potential bailout package from the federal government, says a source with knowledge of the negotiations. Source
  • Meng Wanzhou's lawyer claims Trump reduced Huawei exec from human being to 'chattel'

    Canada News CBC News
    A lawyer for Meng Wanzhou accused former U.S. president Donald Trump Wednesday of leaving a "stain" on the Canadian justice system by threatening to intervene in extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive in pursuit of a trade deal. Source
  • LGBTQ2S+ organization Rainbow Railroad reflects on its mission a year into the COVID-19 pandemic

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A year of the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered many sectors unrecognizable, including charities, as entire countries have ground to a halt with lockdowns and border closures to fight the coronavirus. Rainbow Railroad is an international LGBTQ2S+ organization based in Canada that provides pathways to safety for persecuted members of the queer community all over the world. Source
  • Judge orders release of Proud Boy charged in U.S. Capitol riot

    World News CTV News
    SEATTLE -- A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the release of suburban Seattle man and prominent member of the Proud Boys far-right group, pending trial on charges filed in connection with the January insurrection at the U.S. Source
  • Future lawyers give legal help to marginalized Ont. students and their families

    Canada News CTV News
    SASKATOON -- Shemar Barnett’s post-secondary life of mentoring youth from underserved communities in Toronto was nearly railroaded by one false accusation in high school. Three years ago, hallway security cameras captured him shaking hands with a group of students, who went on to bully another student off-campus. Source