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The Powerball Jackpot and the Border

To all you aspiring billionaires:

If you are attracted by the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot taking place this Wednesday, you are among a great number of peers – but please don’t throw away your dream by taking your winning ticket outside the United States.

According to a little known U.S. law, "all persons are prohibited from importing into the United States from any Jackpotforeign country any … lottery ticket, or any printed paper that may be used as a lottery ticket, or any advertisement of any lottery." Why? According to 17 U.S. Code Section 1305, the U.S. government views lottery tickets, among other listed items, as “immoral articles,” which are therefore banned from import into the country by any means of transportation.

Although foreigners are not barred from purchasing lottery tickets and claiming any winnings while inside the country, transporting lottery tickets beyond the border means that the winner will be unable to bring his or her ticket back into the U.S. to claim the prize. U.S. Customs and Border Officers have been warning cross-border travelers (who come to the U.S. intending to buy lottery tickets) that a ticket may be seized, confiscated and destroyed according to the law if a winner attempts reentry with the winning ticket.

So, whether you are a Canadian citizen or resident (who lives just minutes across the U.S. border) or a Chinese citizen (who is trying to hit the jackpot from across the ocean) – you have been warned. Do not gamble on your chance of winning the big one by carelessly taking your potentially winning ticket outside the United States.

Good luck!

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The International Practice Group of Garvey Schubert Barer is a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics, and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. The firm’s attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s. 
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