Canadians flock to U.S. border towns in frenzy for Powerball tickets

Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:49pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians joined the U.S. frenzy for the Powerball lottery jackpot on Wednesday, crossing the border to buy tickets in droves and lining up outside one Toronto bakery where tickets are being given away for a long shot at the $1.5 billion payout.

The Powerball jackpot has been growing ever since the last winner was drawn in November and is now the largest-ever U.S. lottery prize as well as the world's biggest potential jackpot for a single winner.

"There are a lot of them coming over, a lot of them in the lineup," said Jim Murphy, an employee at the Wedge Discount Liquor Store in Niagara Falls, New York.

Murphy said most of the customers openly admit they are Canadian, while he could identify others by their vehicle license plates.

It is legal for tourists and non-U.S. residents to play the U.S. lottery.

A Canadian winner who does not live in the United States would be subject to a 30 percent U.S. withholding tax, plus possible state taxes. They would not face additional Canadian taxes.

A Canadian jackpot winner could expect to take home about C$1.5 billion ($1.05 billion) after taxes, though winnings are reduced if the money is taken in a lump sum.

Canadians have surged across the border to play the lottery while others implored U.S. friends to buy a ticket for them, local media reported.

U.S. comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert joked that there will be consequences if a Canadian wins the Powerball.   Continued...

The jackpot prize, handwritten on a Powerball sign, is displayed at a corner store selling lottery tickets along the U.S. Mexico border in San Ysidro, California, January 12, 2016.   REUTERS/Mike Blake