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Mega millions prizes

Is it legal to play the lottery over the Internet?

The state lotteries and MUSL (the organization that runs Powerball) are all very firm in their assertion that playing the lottery in any manner over the Internet is illegal.  We are not lawyers and can’t provide legal advice, but we are not so sure about their position.  Their absolute certainty that it is illegal may have more to do with not wanting to lose control of the player interaction, and less to do with a firm legal footing.

When we assess the legality, we look at what has actually happened in court cases.  There have been people in the past who purchased a lottery ticket from an Internet Web site, subsequently won the jackpot, and the lottery attempted to block them from receiving the jackpot.  In each case, the winners took the lottery to court and won.  They received their jackpot as if they walked into a store and purchased a ticket.

You must keep in mind that any type of Internet-based lottery service is not risk-free.  From a legal standpoint, the services are dealing in loopholes in the current law, and the US Congress has taken steps to make those loopholes tighter, particularly in trying to prevent banks and credit cards from allowing Internet payments for lottery services.  But there is a much bigger threat when you use an Internet lottery service: getting ripped off.

By not making a purchase in a store, you may be doing something worse than throwing your money away: you may be helping to keep a scam operation running.  Stay away from anything referring to a «syndicate».  We are not aware of any site using that terminology that is not a scam.  Also beware of sites that state «Insured by ___» at the bottom.  It is like saying «We don’t really buy lottery tickets, but trust us, you’ll get paid if you win.»  Have you ever heard of an insurance company paying out a $200 million Powerball jackpot?  We haven’t.

We do allow some advertising on USA Mega for lottery services.  We recommend that USA residents stay away from such services, and make your purchases in a store.  The ads are directed at non-USA residents, who may not have the online lottery restrictions that exist in the USA.

Are lottery prizes taxable?

Lottery winnings of $600.01 and over are subject to Federal Withholding tax.  For
winnings of $600.01, up to and including $5,000, you will be issued a W-2G form
to report your winnings on your federal income tax form.  For winnings of
$5,000.01 and over, your state’s Department of Revenue removes the 24 percent federal
withholding before you receive your winnings check (or, if it is
an annuity, from each winnings check).  You then receive a W-2G form with each
check to submit with your 1040 form to show that the 24 percent federal
withholding already has been paid.  In addition to federal tax, your state will
make additional withholdings for taxes, and most states will deduct other money that
you may owe to the state, such as back taxes, child support, loan payments, etc. 
In addition, like the federal tax withholding, the state tax withholding at the time
of prize payout may not be the total state tax owed at the end of the year. 
You must consult your state division of taxation for more information about the total
state tax requirements for lottery winners.

The state tax withholdings are as follows:

Arizona  5% state withholding (Arizona residents), 6% state withholding (non-Arizona residents)
Arkansas  7% state withholding
California  No state tax on lottery prizes
Colorado  4% state withholding
Connecticut  6.99% state withholding
Delaware  No state tax on lottery prizes
Florida  No state tax on lottery prizes
Georgia  6% state withholding
Idaho  6.925% state withholding
Illinois  4.95% state withholding
Indiana  3.23% state withholding
Iowa  5% state withholding
Kansas  5% state withholding
Kentucky  5% state withholding
Louisiana  5% state withholding
Maine  5% state withholding
Maryland  8.95% state withholding (Maryland residents), 8% state withholding (non-Maryland residents)
Massachusetts  5% state withholding
Michigan  4.25% state withholding
Minnesota  7.25% state withholding
Mississippi  5% state withholding
Missouri  4% state withholding
Montana  6.9% state withholding
Nebraska  5% state withholding
New Hampshire  No state tax on lottery prizes
New Jersey  8% state withholding
New Mexico  6% state withholding
New York  8.82% state withholding, plus: 3.876% (NYC residents), 1.323% (Yonkers residents)
North Carolina  5.499% state withholding
North Dakota  2.9% state withholding
Ohio  4% state withholding
Oklahoma  4% state withholding
Oregon  8% state withholding
Pennsylvania  3.07% state withholding
Rhode Island  5.99% state withholding
South Carolina  7% state withholding
South Dakota  No state tax on lottery prizes
Tennessee  No state tax on lottery prizes
Texas  No state tax on lottery prizes
U.S. Virgin Islands  † Unknown State Tax Rate
Vermont  6% state withholding
Virginia  4% state withholding
Washington  No state tax on lottery prizes
Washington, D.C.  8.5% state withholding
West Virginia  6.5% state withholding
Wisconsin  7.65% state withholding
Wyoming  No state tax on lottery prizes

† This state/jurisdiction has not responded to our requests for this information.

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