January 13, 2016

America - asinine preponderance of regulation, and Powerball

I'd love to play the Powerball lottery and win over a billion dollars.  Being Canadian I can play, I just could not collect the prize if I won it.  Why? Stupid regulation in a country that's top heavy with regulation and lawyers (no offense to William A. Jacobson intended) prevent it.

Here's the problem.  The Powerball lottery, which I completely understand I have no chance of winning, is not restricted to Americans.  Anyone can buy a ticket, and anyone in fact, can win it.  The problem is that while you can buy a ticket, and you can return to Canada with the ticket (or any other country for that matter), you are not legally allowed to bring the ticket back into the United States to collect your winnings.  The ticket can be confiscated at the border.

An obscure law prevents you from bringing the ticket back in.  It's immoral. Lottery tickets are specifically mentioned.  It's quite ironic since the ticket originated in the United States.

At least one B.C. man has run into problems in the past for trying to take lottery tickets into the U.S.

Conda Reddy says he had nine B.C. lottery tickets confiscated while trying to cross the border in December. The agency has since returned the tickets, as well as his Nexus card, which was taken during the incident.

"...if (border crossing guards) want to be nitpicky, they could enforce that obscure law and take them," he said. "They have the right to."
Lottery officials are scrambling to  try and ensure Canadians can buy the tickets and not have to worry about confiscation if they return to collect winnings with the tickets.  Good on them.  They're seeing the bigger picture - free revenue from foreign suckers players.  They're also seeing more.

What some Americans don't realize is that the Powerball lottery is a big story outside of the United States too.  And the rules allowing foreigners to play but preventing them from winning - after having spent money in America to participate - makes America look petty and bureaucratic.  It's been allover the news up here. 

And it all comes down too to much overly intrusive regulation.  A rule that is overly specific and while perhaps even good intentioned, clearly unworkable identifies a gap.  A multi-state lottery that generates revenue for states at odds with border security which is with the idea of free commerce, and just being neighborly is a sign of over-regulation or at least poorly thought out regulation.

Fix it.  I want to give you a little bit of my money for a chance to dream, America.  It's free money for you.  True, the lotteries here are not taxed at all, but they don't ever get north of $60 million.  Plus, I can guarantee you that if I won a billion dollars (or more), I'd try my hardest to repatriate the money with America.  I'm sure with that kind of money your broken immigration system would let me in to become a citizen very quickly. I'd be totally happy with being an American. I bet I'm not alone in any of that thinking.

One other thought - if you want to sell more, particularly outside of America, consider making it possible to purchase tickets  online.  I get it, the buyers could be from ISIS, but all you have to do is add just one more law that lottery winners must be vetted by Homeland Security prior to collecting their winnings.... (see what I did there?)

Meanwhile - good luck to everyone with Powerball tickets for tonight, sincerely.

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