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Do You Have to Be a U.S. Citizen to Win the Lottery in the United States?

Lottery players do not have to be U.S. citizens in order to win the lottery, and that applies to all lotteries in the country. The United States lotteries are locally provided by each state, but anyone who is visiting that state, even foreigners, can purchase a ticket and become an official winner.

That possibility extends today to playing online thanks to the best lottery sites that were specifically created to offer lottery services to international players. More specifically, the lottery agent sites that purchase real tickets on your behalf. On the other hand, you do need to claim your prizes in person and pay local taxes if you win.

Differences Between U.S. Citizens and Foreign Lottery Winners

It is true that you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to win the lottery in the United States, as per the Powerball official website. Still, there are important nuances when it comes to winning the lottery if you are not a U.S. citizen. Considering the interesting prizes that the biggest lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions have, they are usually just a small bureaucracy to worry about.

Differences U.S. Citizen Winner Foreigner Winner
ID and Age Verification Valid ID Official identification provided by their country of origin, like a passport.
Taxes Federal ($5,000+) and State (if applicable) taxes U.S. Federal ($5,000+) and State taxes plus lottery taxes in their country of origin.
Playing Local Local licensed retailers or official lottery website Local licensed retailers or international lottery agent sites.
Claiming
  • Claiming at retailers up to about $600.
  • Bigger prizes claimed in person at lottery claim centers.
  • Claim normally if in the territory of the US.
  • Receive up to about $2,500 automatically through lottery agents. Bigger prizes must be claimed in person.

Therefore, do not expect to receive all the money in your bank account if you win a big prize from the U.S. The lottery agent sites like theLotter do help you travel and claim your well-deserved award but understand that there will be traveling, acquiring a visa, etc.

Besides, keep in mind that non-citizens are not only subject to the federal tax but to a higher one. Instead of having 24% of your net prize collected, that discount is higher at 30%.  While you cannot avoid lottery taxes playing in the U.S., those are automatically withheld. Therefore, you do not need to worry about how much and where to send your money.

As a plus, if your country has lottery tax rules, those will still apply to your remaining prize. For most lotteries, which often have better conditions than local lotteries in some countries, that still leaves a pretty decent amount. If you want to check that yourself, use our lottery tax calculator.

What Are the Requirements for a Non-Citizen to Win the Lottery?

In order to play the lottery and win as a non-citizen of the United States, you need to be there legally. Either as a tourist or by playing it from abroad through a licensed website, your chances and rights are the exact same as a U.S. citizen. Be ready to travel and claim your prize if you are in the second aforementioned group.

Have Non-Citizens Won the U.S. Lotteries Before?

Yes, there are many records of people from abroad who played and won U.S. lotteries, both by playing locally or through the internet. One of the best examples is that of the Iraqi winner called only M.M., who has kept his lottery anonymity after winning $6.4 million in the Oregon Megabucks lottery. He had only been using the Lotter services for a few months when he hit the jackpot.

Non-Citizens Winning the U.S. Lotteries Before

Credit: theLotter

While there are unrecorded cases of people who chose to play via lottery betting sites, those are a whole different story. Through that method, you do try to win the exact same prize, but you are actually betting on the results and are paid via that website’s insurance company. In other words, you do not actually play in U.S. lotteries as if you used a lottery agent.

FAQ

Can I Play Local Lotteries as a Non-Citizen Via Their Official Website?
No, the official websites of local lotteries are only for residents of that state. You need to play via an authorized lottery agent.
What Happens If an Illegal Immigrant Wins a U.S. Lottery?
Like in the case of Jose Antonio Cua-Toc, immigrants with no legal documentation may be deported or asked to leave the U.S. Still, he managed to take the prize home.
Can I Become a U.S. Citizen After Winning the Lottery?
The fact that you have won a lottery does not help you to become a U.S. citizen in any form. Still, depending on the prize, you might be able to acquire a visa through new investments or businesses.
Is It Safe to Play U.S. Lotteries Online as a Foreigner?
Yes, as long as you pick a licensed and reputable lottery website to purchase your tickets. That is necessary to ensure you are playing with real entries.

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