Here’s a timely question we just got with so many people making travel plans in the next few weeks: Do you have to be an Iowa resident or a U.S. resident to win an Iowa Lottery prize?
The answer in almost all cases is that anyone from anywhere can play the lottery and win. There is only one instance where you have to be from Iowa to win the prize involved, and I’ll cover that here.
I think there is definitely home-state pride involved when someone from Iowa wins big and it’s even more fun when someone from your county or your local community wins the lottery. But people from other states and countries can play and win in the Iowa Lottery’s games. The requirements are the same, no matter where the player is from: You have to be at least 21 years old to buy a ticket and a ticket must be legally purchased, legally possessed and legally presented to the Iowa Lottery to claim a prize.
By its very definition, a lottery is a game that can be won by anyone from anywhere, provided that they have a ticket. In any given year, the vast majority of Iowa Lottery prizes are claimed by Iowans. But our winners this year have also included a Minnesota woman who claimed a $300,000 prize, a Florida man who claimed a $50,000 prize and an Illinois man who claimed a $30,000 prize.
If you win an Iowa Lottery prize and you’re not a resident of this country, you may pay a higher amount in withholding than a U.S. citizen would, but it’s perfectly OK for you to play and win! That situation applies in reverse when we as Iowans play the lottery and win prizes as we’re traveling out of state or out of the country. And bottom line, Iowa Lottery sales provide proceeds to help our state, no matter where the person is from who made the purchase.
Folks from outside of Iowa also can enter our Play It Again® promotions and win prizes in them. (As with prizes in our games, the withholding difference may apply to prizes in our promotions if you’re not a U.S. citizen.)
The only time that Iowa residency is required is in our contests that offer actual lottery tickets as prizes. It’s illegal for us to mail or ship lottery tickets across state lines, so in those instances, you do have to be from Iowa to win.
Here’s a scheduling reminder if you’ve got a prize to claim at an Iowa Lottery office in the next couple weeks: Our offices will be closed on Thursday, Dec. 23, and Friday, Dec. 24, for the Christmas weekend and on Friday, Dec. 31, for the New Year’s holiday.
And as you’re buying tickets this holiday season, please consider our gentle reminder that lottery tickets as gifts should be reserved for the grown-ups on your list. Thank you for playing!