Reassuring message for Canadians hoping to win $1.5B Powerball prize
Published Tuesday, January 12, 2016 7:54PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 13, 2016 6:33PM PST
Canadians Powerball players worried an obscure U.S. law could stop them from claiming the jackpot are getting a reassuring message from lottery officials south of the border.
As the record jackpot reached $1.5 billion Tuesday – the equivalent of more than $2 billion in Canadian dollars – many British Columbians were anxious about a little-known ban on carrying any kind of lottery ticket into the U.S.
“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,” the law states.
“No such articles whether imported separately or contained in packages with other goods entitled to entry, shall be admitted.”
But it’s still perfectly legal for Canadians to buy tickets, provided they do so in person and not through an online reseller, and to win the jackpot.
And on Tuesday, Washington lottery officials told CTV News they will help any potential winners who picked up a ticket in that state to claim their money.
“Players have 180 days to redeem a winning ticket. During that time, our Lottery will certainly work with anyone impacted by a border issue to achieve crossing and pay the prize,” a spokesperson promised in an email Tuesday.
Of course, the main hurdle remains beating the astronomical odds of winning, which are one in 292 million.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is aware of the concerns among Canadian players, but couldn’t confirm whether they would be allowed entry while carrying a winning ticket.
“CBP is unable to make a determination on a person or item’s admissibility into the U.S. until faced with the totality of the circumstances,” a spokesperson said in an email statement.
Last month, Conda Reddy had nine B.C. lottery tickets seized at the border, and staff also took away his Nexus. Customs ultimately said they would not enforce the seizure of his tickets, however, and he has received them back.
Reddy said he’s also getting his Nexus pass returned.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Mi-Jung Lee
Update: This story was altered Wednesday to include a new statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.