Lotto fever in Point Roberts

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by Meg Olson

With three lucky winners sharing the Powerball mega-jackpot, the Point will likely get a break from the throngs of lottery hopefuls that have clogged the border and lined up at two local retailers for a chance at $1.5 billion.

“I can’t give you any specific numbers,” said International Marketplace manager Dean Priestman when asked how many tickets the store sold. “What I can say is it was enormous.” Priestman said it was the store’s practice not to disclose lottery revenues.

The marketplace has an automated vending machine and a manned lottery terminal. “Each day both of the machines were running from the minute we opened until the minute we closed,” Priestman said. At times the line for the manned till snaked down the aisles to the meat department while the line for the vending machine ended at the carrots.

At 5 p.m. on the draw date, January 13, staff at the USA Gasoline station reported they had topped $31,000 in sales of the $2 tickets.

The vast majority of ticket purchasers came from Canada. On Saturday, January 9, the date of the previous draw, with the jackpot approaching $1 billion, the line to enter Point Roberts stretched to Fourth Street in Tsawwassen, with the majority of cars showing B.C. plates. Officers stated the primary reason for crossing was “lotto fever.”

Despite speculation rules would prohibit a holder of the winning ticket to return to the Unites States with it, neither U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would confirm any such prohibition.

“CBP is unable to make a determination on a person or item’s admissibility into the U.S. until faced with the totality of the circumstances,” was the official CBP statement.

“As lottery tickets are not considered to be prohibited or controlled goods, no special requirements exist,” CBSA responded. “Travelers must always make a full and accurate declaration of all purchases and answer all questions truthfully to the CBSA officer.”

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