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Can you buy Mega Millions as a Canadian?

Mega Millions is one of the biggest lottery games in the United States, offering jackpots starting at $40 million that can grow into the hundreds of millions. With prizes that large, it’s no wonder that people outside of the U.S. wonder if they can get a ticket too. For Canadians hoping to take a chance on Mega Millions, the short answer is no. Mega Millions tickets can only legally be purchased within the 45 U.S. states that participate in the game. But that doesn’t mean Canadians are totally shut out from the excitement of American lotteries. Read on to learn more about Mega Millions, other U.S. lottery games Canadians can play, and alternatives available right at home.

Can Canadians Legally Buy Mega Millions Tickets?

Mega Millions is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is available for purchase in 45 U.S. states as well as Washington D.C. and the U.S Virgin Islands. The states not participating are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. To play Mega Millions, you must be physically located within one of the 45 member states or jurisdictions and purchase an official Mega Millions ticket either in person at a licensed lottery retailer or online through the state’s approved lottery website.

Therefore, Canadians are not eligible to cross the border or go online to legally purchase Mega Millions tickets. You must be an American citizen or resident living in a participating state. Non-residents are prohibited from crossing state lines or using mailing addresses from member states solely for the purpose of buying lottery tickets. Circumventing geographic restrictions is considered lottery fraud and carries financial penalties.

Purchasing Tickets as a Tourist

Some Canadians may try purchasing Mega Millions tickets while vacationing in the U.S. This is allowed, but only under certain conditions. You cannot simply cross the border for a day trip with the intention of buying tickets. Tourists are permitted to buy tickets if they are genuinely visiting the state for reasons unrelated to gambling. For example, if you take a week-long trip to New York City and decide to try your luck at Mega Millions one day, that is legal. But you cannot take a day trip to New York from Toronto just to play the lottery.

Lotteries do not allow for consistent or large-scale ticket purchases by non-residents. At most you may buy a handful of tickets as part of a broader trip. You also must be physically in the state when purchasing tickets in person and within state borders if buying online. Overall, your chances to play as a tourist are extremely limited.

Third Party Services

Some online services claim they can purchase official Mega Millions tickets and ship them internationally to Canadian customers. However, it is illegal for third party services to regularly buy and resell lottery tickets across state and country lines. Avoid these offers, as you likely will lose your money without receiving a valid ticket. Remember, Mega Millions tickets can only legally be bought directly through a state lottery by U.S. residents.

Other Major U.S. Lotteries

Mega Millions may be the largest multi-state lottery in America, but it’s not the only major game. Two other huge U.S. lotteries also prohibit Canadians from playing:


Powerball is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is America’s biggest lottery game. It’s available in 45 states and holds the record for the largest jackpot in history at $1.586 billion in 2016. Powerball has similar rules to Mega Millions for buying tickets. You must make purchases through the state lottery as a resident. Canadians cannot cross the border or play online. The same tourist exemption applies where you can buy a ticket if genuinely traveling.

Lucky for Life

Lucky for Life is a unique two-draw game coordinated by the New England Lotteries. It has a second prize of $1,000 per day for life. Tickets can only be bought through physical retailers, not online sales. Only 23 states offer Lucky for Life, but the same residency requirements apply. Canadians cannot legally purchase Lucky for Life tickets in any format.

The bottom line is Canadians are prohibited from buying tickets for the three biggest individual state lotteries. You may only participate if you happen to be visiting a state on a trip unrelated to gambling.

States that Allow Foreign Purchases

A small number of individual state lotteries do permit foreigners to buy tickets online, including Canadians. However, most of these lotteries are relatively small. The selection includes:

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Idaho
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina

The jackpots and chances of winning big are lower compared to massive multi-state games. But it does provide an opportunity for Canadians to play select U.S. lotteries without having to cross the border. Check each state’s lottery website for specific rules on international sales.

Other American Lotteries Canadians Can Play

While the major interstate games exclude Canadians, there are some other U.S. lotteries that do permit international players:

USA Mega

USA Mega is operated by the Rhode Island Lottery. It functions like Powerball with big jackpots starting at $40 million. USA Mega is open to everyone worldwide with no residency requirements. You can purchase tickets online through the USA Mega website. This provides a way for Canadians to legally play for American lottery prizes worth hundreds of millions from home.

Lotto America

Lotto America is a relatively new game run by the Minnesota Lottery. It’s modeled after Powerball with starting jackpots of $2 million. Lotto America tickets can be purchased online with no residency restrictions. Canadians can register an account and buy tickets to Lotto America through the state lottery’s website.


Cash4Life is a lottery game currently available in nine states coordinated by the New York Lottery. It offers a top prize of $1,000 per day for life. Cash4Life permits ticket purchases by mail across the U.S. and Canada. To play from Canada, you must print out and mail in an order form available on the Cash4Life website.

So while the biggest American lotteries exclude Canadians, some smaller games and scratch tickets allow international buyers. This gives Canadians a way to participate without traveling to the U.S. or using unreliable third party services. Just be sure to only purchase directly through the official state lottery.

Are Canadian Lottery Winnings Taxed in the U.S.?

If a Canadian citizen does manage to legally win an American lottery prize, they will be subject to U.S. tax withholding. According to IRS regulations, a standard 24% tax rate is applied to lottery winnings by non-resident aliens from Canada and most other countries. So 24% of the prize amount will be immediately withheld to cover the U.S. tax obligation.

There is no special exemption for Canadians winning American lotteries. The prize is considered U.S. gambling income, so it is taxed accordingly for non-residents. The remainder of the winnings can then be claimed and brought back to Canada.

However, the winner will likely owe additional taxes when bringing the money into Canada. There is generally no double taxation between the two countries, but Canadians do have to pay the difference based on their higher personal tax rate.

For example, if a Canadian wins a $1 million USD prize, about $240,000 will be initially withheld for U.S taxes. When they claim the remaining $760,000 in Canada, more tax will be owed if their income bracket exceeds 24%. The amount will vary based on province and personal situation. But additional taxes in Canada should be expected on lottery prizes claimed by Canadian residents.

Options for Canadians to Play Similar Games

While the exact Mega Millions and Powerball games are geo-restricted to the United States, Canadians do have access to similar nationwide lottery games with big jackpots:

Lotto Max

Lotto Max is Canada’s version of Mega Millions or Powerball. It’s coordinated nationally by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation. Draws are held twice weekly with minimum jackpots of $10 million that can grow to $70 million. Matching all seven numbers wins the jackpot. Lotto Max tickets can be purchased throughout Canada.

Lotto 6/49

Lotto 6/49 is Canada’s main national lottery game. It offers a fixed jackpot of $5 million plus the opportunity to win a guaranteed prize draw. Draws are held twice per week. Tickets can be bought across the country. Lotto 6/49 has been running for over 30 years and routinely creates Canadian millionaires.

Daily Grand

Daily Grand is a unique Canadian game with daily nationwide draws. It regularly has jackpots over $500,000 with the top prize tied to ticket sales. Every draw guarantees a $1,000 consolation prize. Tickets can be purchased online or in stores through participating provincial lotteries.

While not identical, Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 give Canadians similar huge jackpot excitement and chances to win big right at home. When combined with Daily Grand, Canada has options for playing different national lottery games with prizes in the millions.

Biggest Canadian Lottery Jackpots

Canada has produced some enormous lottery jackpot winners over the years:

  • Lotto Max – $70 million – 2019
  • Lotto 649 – $64 million – 2013
  • Lotto Max – $60 million – 2017
  • Lotto 649 – $50 million – 2006
  • Lotto Max – $50 million – 2008

The record Canadian lottery jackpot goes to a Lotto Max draw in 2019 that reached the game’s current maximum of $70 million after going unclaimed for several weeks. Two winning tickets split the $70 million top prize.

Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 have both produced jackpots surpassing $50 million over the past 15 years. While not as frequent as Mega Millions or Powerball, Canada certainly sees its share of enormous lottery prizes.

Playing Provincial Lotteries

In addition to the national games, every Canadian province runs its own regional lottery. These provincial games offer additional chances to win with options that vary across the country:

Atlantic Lottery

Atlantic Lottery offers regional games in the four eastern provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Games include Tag, Bucko, and Keno Atlantic.


Quebec’s lottery provides unique provincial games only available to residents of the province. These include Lotto Quebec, Quebec 49, Extra, and La Quotidienne.

Ontario Lottery (OLG)

The OLG provides subscribers exclusive access to Ontario-only lotteries not offered in other provinces. Games include Ontario 49, Pick-series, and Ontario Keno.

Western Canada Lottery Corporation

This group operates regional lotteries in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Canada’s Northern Territories. Games include Western Max, Pick-series, and Extra.

British Columbia Lottery Corporation

BCLC offers lottery draws specifically for British Columbia. These include Lotto BC, Keno, and BC 49.

Canadians can play their provincial games on top of the national lotteries. Prizes may not be as big as Lotto Max, but regional games create more chances to win with localized options in each area of Canada.

Buying Lottery Tickets Online in Canada

Playing the lottery online makes purchasing tickets convenient. Online sales are available through authorized provincial lottery websites and apps. However, some limitations apply for online purchases:

– You must be physically located in the province while buying tickets online. Sales are geo-restricted.

– Registration is required with proof of ID and residence address.

– Purchases are limited to provincial residents. You cannot play other provinces’ lotteries online.

– Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 sales online are limited to certain provinces.

While convenient, online lottery sales in Canada are restricted to local residents playing their own provincial games. Lotteries take measures to ensure buyers are located within provincial borders at the time of purchase. You still need to register and provide ID verification.

If interested in playing online, check with your provincial lottery corporation for specifics on what games they offer digitally to local residents. Signing up for an account involves submitting identifying documents.

Are Canadian Lottery Winnings Taxable?

Yes, all lottery winnings in Canada are considered taxable income by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). While you do not pay tax directly on the prize money, it must be reported as part of your annual income. Lottery winnings contribute to your total tax bracket that determines how much income tax you owe for the year.

How much tax you actually pay on a lottery prize comes down to personal circumstances:

– No tax is taken directly off Canadian prizes. But they count towards your income bracket.

– Tax rates based on total income range from 15% on the low end up to 33% at the highest bracket federally. Provincial taxes also apply.

– Other income sources and deductions for the year determine your final tax bill.

– Large prizes may push you into a higher bracket. But taxes on gambling wins are not a fixed percentage.

While taxes do not come off prizes directly, Canada’s tax brackets mean substantial lottery winnings can result in owing a significant amount come filing time. It’s wise to set aside a portion for taxes when claiming a jackpot.


Canadians are prohibited from legally purchasing Mega Millions tickets due to geographic sales restrictions. You must be a U.S. resident located within a participating state to play. But Americans are likewise barred from buying tickets for Canadian lotteries.

Limited exceptions allow tourists to purchase Mega Millions tickets while visiting the U.S. on vacation. Smaller American lotteries also permit online sales internationally to Canadians. But the major multi-state games have residency requirements.

While Mega Millions itself is off limits, Canada has similar national lottery games with huge jackpots. Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 offer big prizes and chances to become an instant millionaire right at home. Provincial lotteries provide additional regional games across the country.

In the end, Canadians have no shortage of lottery options with big payouts. Players just need to stick with tickets purchased legally through authorized Canadian sources. While American lotteries like Mega Millions look tempting, geographic rules prohibit cross-border ticket sales in both directions. With strategic planning, Canadians can play their own lottery games with prizes rivaling anything in the U.S.