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Can you play Mega Millions if you are not a US citizen?

Quick Answer

No, you cannot play Mega Millions if you are not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident with a green card. Mega Millions is only available for purchase within the 46 U.S. jurisdictions that participate in the game. Non-U.S. citizens and non-green card holders cannot legally purchase Mega Millions tickets, even if visiting the U.S. Mega Millions is a U.S.-only lottery game that is administered at the state level in participating jurisdictions.

What is Mega Millions?

Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery game in the United States that is administered by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). It is one of the largest multi-jurisdictional lottery games in the U.S. along with Powerball. Mega Millions lottery tickets are sold in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The only states that don’t participate in the Mega Millions are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.

Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday evening at 11:00 pm ET. At each drawing, 5 white balls are drawn from a set of 70 white balls. 1 gold Mega Ball is drawn from a set of 25 balls. To win the Mega Millions jackpot, players must match all 5 white balls in any order, as well as the Mega Ball. The starting guaranteed Mega Millions jackpot is $40 million, and it continues to grow by at least $5 million after each drawing until there is a winner. The current world record for the largest Mega Millions jackpot was $1.537 billion in October 2018.

The overall odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. The odds of matching all 5 white balls but not the Mega Ball are 1 in 12,607,306. Players can multiply non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times with the Megaplier option by paying an extra $1 per ticket.

Can non-U.S. citizens purchase Mega Millions tickets?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Mega Millions tickets can only be legally purchased by U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents with a green card aged 18 years or older. Mega Millions tickets cannot be purchased by non-U.S. citizens visiting the United States on a tourist or student visa. Since the lottery is administered at the state level under state laws, players must be U.S. residents and physically located within a participating Mega Millions jurisdiction when purchasing tickets.

The Mega Millions official website states: “Mega Millions tickets may be purchased in 46 jurisdictions; however, tickets may not be purchased outside of the United States. Federal and jurisdictional laws prohibit the purchase of Mega Millions tickets by mail across jurisdictional borders.”

Lottery ticket agents are only licensed to sell tickets to customers who meet the residency requirements. Agents must confirm customers meet the eligibility criteria every time they make a lottery purchase. There are no exceptions for tourists, foreign students, expats, illegal immigrants, etc. Any lottery agent who knowingly sells tickets to ineligible customers risks losing their lottery license and faces prosecution. Plus, any lottery prizes claimed with illegally purchased tickets would not be honored.

Why is Mega Millions limited to U.S. residents?

There are several reasons why Mega Millions ticket purchases are restricted to U.S. citizens and residents:

  • Mega Millions is administered under state laws – Each participating state or jurisdiction has its own laws and regulations regarding lottery games sold within its borders. These laws restrict lottery ticket sales to eligible residents and those physically located in the state at the time of purchase.
  • Avoid issues validating winning tickets – Requiring proof of U.S. residency for ticket purchases makes it easier to validate and pay out winning tickets. There is greater assurance the tickets are legally purchased and winners can be properly identified.
  • Prevent fraud – Limiting sales to U.S. residents minimizes the potential for cross-border fraud that is harder to detect and investigate. Criminals could try to claim lottery prizes with fraudulent winning tickets created outside the country.
  • Facilitate tax withholding and reporting – U.S. citizens and residents purchasing lottery tickets in the U.S. are subject to domestic tax withholding and reporting requirements. Foreigners are generally exempt, causing accounting issues.
  • Comply with anti-money laundering laws – Selling lottery tickets across borders can potentially aid money laundering schemes, which U.S. lottery organizers want to avoid.

In summary, Mega Millions eligibility rules enable better regulatory oversight, fraud prevention, and accounting of lottery activities. The game can’t function properly if people can play from anywhere globally.

Can you play Mega Millions while visiting the United States?

Unfortunately, the answer is still no. Visitors to the U.S. on tourist visas are not eligible to purchase Mega Millions tickets, even when physically located in a participating Mega Millions jurisdiction. Some key reasons tourists cannot play include:

  • Don’t meet residency requirements – Visitors are not U.S. citizens or green card holders, so they don’t satisfy the residency requirements. Being physically present in a state or jurisdiction temporarily doesn’t establish residency.
  • Harder to confirm identification – There are greater challenges confirming a tourist’s identity and validating any potential winning tickets. Lottery organizers want to easily verify players.
  • Tax complications – Tourists are exempt from U.S. tax withholding on lottery winnings, causing accounting issues. Withholding requirements make payment complex.
  • Encourage responsible gambling – Prohibiting tourists minimizes reckless gambling. Visitors may make impulsive ticket purchases and not appreciate the odds of winning.
  • Can’t claim prizes – Any non-resident that slipped through and won a Mega Millions prize would be disqualified when attempting to claim it. No prize payouts are made to ineligible players.

The bottom line is Mega Millions organizers do not want to deal with the complications of allowing short-term visitors to play. Residency requirements ensure only qualified U.S. citizens or residents can purchase tickets. Tourists might still visit lotto venues out of curiosity but cannot play.

What if you have a dual citizenship with the U.S. and another country?

Dual citizens who are legal permanent residents of the United States are eligible to play Mega Millions provided they meet all other requirements. Having dual citizenship itself does not guarantee you can legally play Mega Millions, however. Here are key facts on dual citizenship:

  • Must be U.S. permanent resident – Dual passport holders must have a green card or other proof of permanent U.S. residency. Merely having U.S./foreign dual citizenship itself does not qualify.
  • Be physically located in Mega Millions jurisdiction – When purchasing tickets, the dual citizen must be physically situated in a participating Mega Millions jurisdiction. Purchases from outside the U.S. are still prohibited.
  • Meet age requirements – Dual citizens must be at least 18 years old, the minimum age to play Mega Millions. Minors are ineligible regardless of citizenship.
  • Use own U.S. funds – Ticket payments must be made from the dual citizen’s own U.S.-based bank account or cash. Transfers from foreign accounts are not permitted.
  • Subject to tax withholding – Dual citizens are subject to the same 30% tax withholding rate on prizes over $600 like other American citizens. Taxes cannot be avoided.

In summary, having dual U.S./foreign citizenship alone does not grant Mega Millions eligibility. You must still prove permanent U.S. residency and meet all standard requirements as both a U.S. citizen and resident of a participating Mega Millions state. But dual citizens who are permanent U.S. residents can play on equal terms as native-born American citizens.

Can permanent residents (green card holders) play Mega Millions?

Yes, lawful permanent residents of the United States with green cards can purchase Mega Millions tickets. The Mega Millions residency rules define an eligible player as “a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident with a green card.” So green card holders meet the eligibility requirements just like U.S. citizens provided they are located within a participating jurisdiction.

Some key facts about playing Mega Millions with a green card:

  • Must be original cardholder – The green card holder must purchase tickets using their own card. You cannot play on someone else’s green card.
  • Green card must be current – The card must be valid and unexpired to prove current lawful residency. Expired green cards are invalid.
  • Physical presence required – Cardholders must be physically situated within a Mega Millions jurisdiction when buying tickets. Purchases from abroad are still prohibited.
  • Taxes apply equally – Green card residents are subject to the same 30% federal tax withholding on Mega Millions prizes over $600 as U.S. citizens.
  • Prizes can be collected – Green card holders can collect any prizes won through lawful play. Immigration status does not prevent payouts.

Green card holders from any country can play Mega Millions on equal legal terms as American citizens. They enjoy the same rights and responsibilities following all standard rules. Just having an unexpired green card is sufficient to play.

Can you claim Mega Millions prizes if you are an illegal immigrant?

No, illegal immigrants cannot legally purchase Mega Millions tickets or claim any prizes. People residing in the U.S. without proper legal authorization do not meet the residency requirements for buying tickets.

Some key facts about undocumented immigrants and Mega Millions:

  • Cannot buy tickets legally – Mega Millions retailers should not knowingly sell tickets to undocumented people. Doing so risks their lottery license.
  • Winnings are invalid – Any prizes “won” by illegal immigrants would be invalidated once their status is discovered. No payouts are made.
  • May still get taxed – Federal law requires taxes be withheld from winnings over $600 even if the winner is ineligible. Unauthorized immigrants can end up paying taxes on invalid prizes.
  • Deportation unlikely – Illegally playing the lottery does not generally trigger deportation. But law enforcement would be notified if large winnings are claimed.
  • Retailers could be penalized – Sellers who knowingly make illegal sales to undocumented people could face penalties including loss of lottery license.

In summary, it is a violation of Mega Millions game rules and federal laws for undocumented immigrants to play. Any prizes claimed will be denied and sellers could face consequences. Illegal immigrants should avoid participating regardless of desire to play.

Can a U.S. expatriate or former resident play Mega Millions?

Unfortunately, U.S. citizens or green card holders living abroad who have given up or lost their official U.S. residency status are no longer eligible to purchase Mega Millions tickets. Here are some key considerations for U.S. expatriates:

  • Must meet residency rules – Expatriates are neither U.S. residents nor physically located in a participating jurisdiction. They fail the residency requirements.
  • Can’t purchase tickets abroad – Mega Millions tickets can only be purchased from licensed retailers in participating U.S. jurisdictions. Expatriates abroad have no way to legally buy tickets.
  • Winnings would be denied – Any prize claimed with a ticket purchased abroad would be automatically invalid. Only tickets bought legally in the U.S. can win.
  • May still owe U.S. taxes – Prizes over $600 trigger tax withholding even for ineligible winners. Expats could be liable for 30% tax on invalid winnings.
  • Can play again if return – Expatriates who return to the U.S. and reestablish permanent residency can legally play Mega Millions again.

In summary, severing official U.S. residency makes you ineligible for Mega Millions no matter your citizenship status. Expats cannot skirt the rules to purchase tickets or claim prizes from abroad. But residency can be reestablished if an expatriate later moves back to America.

Can U.S. military members play Mega Millions overseas?

U.S. military service members deployed abroad on assignment are still eligible to play Mega Millions, but face restrictions purchasing tickets remotely. Here are some key considerations:

  • Meet residency requirements – Active duty military personnel retain home state residency and can play the lottery from that state while deployed.
  • Can’t buy tickets remotely – Mega Millions tickets cannot be purchased over the internet, by phone, or mail. Players must purchase tickets in person.
  • Proxy purchasing – Military members can ask a friend or family member to buy tickets on their behalf from an authorized retailer in their home state.
  • Prizes can be collected – Service members can collect any prizes won on legally purchased tickets, even when overseas at time of winning.
  • Taxes still apply – Military winners are subject to full domestic tax withholding rules. Prizes cannot be exempted or reduced by being overseas.

So in summary, deployed military personnel can still play if proxies purchase tickets for them domestically. But they cannot buy tickets remotely while abroad and must return stateside to collect substantial prizes in person. All standard eligibility and tax rules still apply.

Can you play Mega Millions while residing in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands?

U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have their own unique rules regarding Mega Millions eligibility and ticket sales:

  • U.S Virgin Islands – Can play Mega Millions. VI is a participating Mega Millions jurisdiction.
  • Puerto Rico – Cannot play Mega Millions. Puerto Rico does not sell Mega Millions tickets currently.
  • Other Territories – Other U.S. territories like Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands do not offer Mega Millions either.
  • Must be located in VI – When purchasing tickets in the Virgin Islands, players must be physically present in the territory and tickets must be bought there.
  • Eligibility restrictions apply – Residency rules restrict eligibility in the VI same as the mainland U.S. Non-residents cannot play.
  • Taxes still apply – Mega Millions winners in the VI face the same tax withholding rates on prizes as mainland ticket holders.

So in summary, Mega Millions ticket sales are restricted to the U.S. Virgin Islands only among the major territories. And standard eligibility requirements apply for being able to play there legally as a resident.


Mega Millions has very clear and strictly enforced residency requirements for who can and cannot play the lottery. Ticket sales are limited exclusively to U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) located within participating Mega Millions jurisdictions at the time of purchase. Non-residents including tourists, illegal immigrants, expats overseas cannot legally play. Additionally, remote purchases by any party are prohibited under the rules. Players must appear in person. While restrictive, these eligibility rules help ensure the integrity of the Mega Millions game. Any winning tickets purchased illegally would be invalidated and payouts denied. So unfortunately, the only way a non-U.S. resident can participate is by receiving Powerball tickets as a gift from an eligible U.S. resident who purchases entries on their behalf domestically. There are no other exceptions to the residency requirements enforced uniformly across all 46 participating Mega Millions jurisdictions.