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Bill would allow N.C. lottery winners to remain anonymous

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: Bill would allow N.C. lottery winners to remain anonymous
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Lottery players in North Carolina who win big money in the games — from a Powerball jackpot to a $600 scratch-off ticket win — can't keep it a secret.

State law says the names of lottery winners and what they won are public information.

But a House bill set for a hearing Wednesday would change that, requiring confidentiality unless the winners consent to having their information released.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County, said he's concerned current technology makes it too easy to track down people's information, and that winners are being used to generate interest in the games.

The lottery's website includes a "Winners' Board" of people who agreed to be photographed with a large check showing their winnings. The lottery also sends news releases weekly that feature winners' stories.

"Some people are winning an awful lot of money, and with that comes some unwanted attention," said Jackson, a Democrat. "It seems like we're using their good fortune to advertise the lottery, and I don't think that's fair."

Lottery officials don't think the bill would be good policy and have decided to oppose it, said Van Denton, a spokesman for the N.C. Education Lottery.

He said the lottery's credibility could be undermined if winners' identities are concealed. The idea that government works best when it is transparent holds true with the lottery, Denton said.

"Being open about who wins prizes helps to hold the state and the lottery accountable, and secrecy about who the winners are could lead to questions about who got the prizes," he said.

It's not an academic argument. Lottery officials say they stopped a $1 million fraud in 2012 because of the requirement that winners are made public.

In that case, the wife of a Kangaroo Express clerk claimed the winnings from a scratch-off ticket. After the win was announced, the company contacted officials, and an investigation determined the clerk obtained the ticket illegally.

A balancing act

The law that created the lottery in 2005 did not specify what type of winners' information was public. At the time, officials said they wanted to make public basic information in an effort to ensure the public had confidence in the games; that became the practice.

In 2009, lawmakers clarified that only a winner's name, city or town of residence, the type of game played, the date the prize was claimed and the amount of money won is public record. Officials said that change was to ensure that other information about players — such as phone numbers, addresses or even Social Security numbers — would not be considered public information.

Winners of prizes of $600 or more are required to claim the prize at a lottery office. Denton said that when a winner visits a claim center, the lottery generally gathers personal information, takes a picture and publishes a news release on its website.

"The way the law is now, combined with our practices with winners, allows us to balance the public interest about lottery wins and the private interest of those who win," Denton said.

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have lotteries, and 38 states consider information about who wins to be public.

'I would have said no'

Jackson, a four-term Democrat from Raleigh, said he modeled the bill after similar laws in the six other states that allow winners to remain anonymous.

Delaware, for instance, has a long-standing law that keeps lottery winners' information confidential unless they agree to be publicized. Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery, said that since the law was implemented, most have elected to remain anonymous, and there has been little pushback.

South Carolina also allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, though no state law specifically allows secrecy, said Carl Stent, deputy director of legal services for the South Carolina Education Lottery. Stent echoed Jackson's concern about protecting personal information.

"It only heightens the debate when you have banks and hospitals getting a breach in their data," he said. "It's an issue that I'm sure other states will continue to battle with."

Valerie Murphy, a Goldsboro insurance agent, won the lottery in early February, collecting more than $690,000 with a Powerball ticket that matched five of six numbers. She and her husband were featured in a lottery release, expressing their excitement.

"We've been pinching each other all day," she said at the time. "We're paying everything off. The house, the car, the boat... everything. I'm so excited."

In an interview, she said she thinks people should have a choice about publicizing their names when they come forward to claim their prize.

Murphy said she hasn't experienced any unwanted attention since winning, which she attributed to living in a larger town. She said that she could see where small-town winners especially might not want to have their names made public.

"If I had a choice, I would have said no," she said.

Father 'got calls'

Jackson said several of his constituents who have won the lottery have expressed support for his idea since he introduced the bill two years ago.

He acknowledged that his father is one of them: Glenn Jackson won a $1 million Powerball prize in 2007 and "got calls from solicitors for months" afterward, Jackson said in 2013.

He said he hopes the bill has more traction in the legislature this year after not advancing previously. He said it stalled because a slate of other lottery-related bills consumed more attention.

Jackson also said he doesn't view government transparency as a valid concern.

"Nobody has told me that they want to be able to know who wins the lottery because they play," he said.

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21 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by hearsetrax.
Page 1 of 2
Original Bey's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg

Bahamas
Member #133462
September 30, 2012
5946 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 4, 2015, 10:05 am - IP Logged

Veteran lottery players will love this and demand their states be next in line for this legislation. Those who are obsessed with large jackpots must keep in mind the casual player is more likely to buy into the conspiracy theories. If those numbers decline, you can kiss super huge jackpots goodbye. I don't care either way. I have been playing long enough to have a plan.

"Everything works  ONCE!"

    haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
    Egg Harbor twp.south Jersey shore
    United States
    Member #112968
    June 29, 2011
    3856 Posts
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    Posted: March 4, 2015, 10:19 am - IP Logged

    Lottery officials are opposed, of course, it doesn't effect them they're not allowed to play.

     

    Jackson's Father won just 1 MIL. and had people calling him...see what happens when it hits home ?

    Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

      kennedygrandma's avatar - nw shadow.jpg
      gastonia nc
      United States
      Member #54044
      August 2, 2007
      984 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: March 4, 2015, 10:34 am - IP Logged

      There are a lot of crazy and envious people and I would choose to not disclose my identity to the public.People have gotten robbed and killed in some places because their lottery winnings were made public.

        Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
        Zeta Reticuli Star System
        United States
        Member #30470
        January 17, 2006
        10351 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 4, 2015, 11:53 am - IP Logged

        From the OP:

        Lottery officials don't think the bill would be good policy and have decided to oppose it, said Van Denton, a spokesman for the N.C. Education Lottery.

        He said the lottery's credibility could be undermined if winners' identities are concealed. The idea that government works best when it is transparent holds true with the lottery, Denton said.


        The states that do allow winners to remain anonymous don't have any problems with it.

        Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

        Lep

        There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

          dk1421's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
          North Carolina
          United States
          Member #64582
          September 1, 2008
          347 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: March 4, 2015, 12:05 pm - IP Logged

          When the NC lottery first started, you could choose if you wanted your photo taken. Every time I check up on the website, things are different. 

          I'm glad he's trying to get this through. The fact they caught the owner of the shop has nothing to do with this new proposed law. They'll still be getting all the information they'll need to pay out, just not disclosing it. I hate it when they try to twist things!

          "Don't be a schmuck, always take the cash." -Coin Toss

            ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
            Idaho
            United States
            Member #56506
            November 21, 2007
            6537 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 4, 2015, 12:11 pm - IP Logged

            From the OP:

            Lottery officials don't think the bill would be good policy and have decided to oppose it, said Van Denton, a spokesman for the N.C. Education Lottery.

            He said the lottery's credibility could be undermined if winners' identities are concealed. The idea that government works best when it is transparent holds true with the lottery, Denton said.


            The states that do allow winners to remain anonymous don't have any problems with it.

            I was thinking the same thing. Those states that allow people to remain anonymous seem to be doing ok and I don't hear anything about the lottery being fixed from the people who live in those states and play. Besides, even those states that have the anonymity option still have people come forward with their names. So its not like everyone who wins will choose anonymity. Some people want the 15 minutes of fame that comes with winning or just don't care that people know that they won.

            "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

              Original Bey's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg

              Bahamas
              Member #133462
              September 30, 2012
              5946 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 4, 2015, 2:46 pm - IP Logged

              States as New York, Florida and California would never risk losing a penny of the huge revenues the lottery contributes to the state coffers by implementing such a measure. It might make the smaller states more attractive to play in. States as Delaware rarely produce winners so the public won't be slapped in the face with anonymous winner.... anonymous winner.

              We all witnessed the extent to which lottery staff went to when they partnered with the media to expose Gloria when she won that huge jackpot. News crews were staged outside as she left the headquarters from making her claim. Do you seriously think the Sunshine State will even consider offering anonymity? The odds of that exceed the probability of winning the jackpot.

              "Everything works  ONCE!"

                hearsetrax's avatar - 0118

                United States
                Member #52345
                May 21, 2007
                2659 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 4, 2015, 3:13 pm - IP Logged

                Skeptical should be interesting to see how this plays out

                  brees2012's avatar - animal whale.jpg

                  United States
                  Member #125177
                  March 26, 2012
                  176 Posts
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                  Posted: March 4, 2015, 4:11 pm - IP Logged

                    Wished my state was Anonymous ...........

                    And it should be up to "each individual person " who wants to be anonymous or public ......

                    maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
                    Massachusetts
                    United States
                    Member #37433
                    April 14, 2006
                    2747 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 4, 2015, 4:23 pm - IP Logged

                    The NC lottery can do what Delaware lottery does. It only reports of the win but omits the names and city/town of residence of the player. Personally I'd rather just see the pic of the ticket and maybe a few lines of how the ticket ended up in the hands of the winner. 

                    In MA winners can form Revocable Trusts which is good enough for me

                    That money's gone fo ever

                      wpb's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                      Charlotte North Carolina
                      United States
                      Member #464
                      July 9, 2002
                      17392 Posts
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                      Posted: March 4, 2015, 6:21 pm - IP Logged

                      I think this is a great idea, reveling the winners name only hurts the winner and I can't see how this will hurt the lottery!

                      wpb

                        Think's avatar - lightbulb
                        Marquette, MI
                        United States
                        Member #20541
                        August 20, 2005
                        705 Posts
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                        Posted: March 4, 2015, 7:21 pm - IP Logged

                        If they go anonymous I hope they are not as schizophrenic as Michigan.  Until 1988 Michigan lottery prizes were not taxed on Michigan income taxes  and you were NOT allowed to remain anonymous.  In 1988 the state income tax applied to the prizes and you were then allowed to remain anonymous on prizes over $10,000.

                        That was until we got the Multi State games.  In Michigan you are not allowed to remain anonymous if you claim a Multi State Game Prize even though all the lower tier prizes are funded from within the state!

                        It is idiotic and inconsistent!

                        I wish North Carolinians better luck with their anonymous claims.

                          pickone4me's avatar - 021414tvlies zpsa453b327.jpg
                          Wisconsin
                          United States
                          Member #104962
                          January 23, 2011
                          1075 Posts
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                          Posted: March 4, 2015, 8:01 pm - IP Logged

                            I have to give two thumbs up for NCThumbs Up  Thumbs Up 

                           

                          As for the poor excuses to not have anonymity for lottery claims,  that is just inhumane.  I am a huge critic of the lottery,  and I support anonymous lottery claims.  Even for people in states that win more often then any others.

                          Trump 2016!

                            Avatar

                            United States
                            Member #163996
                            February 15, 2015
                            68 Posts
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                            Posted: March 4, 2015, 11:47 pm - IP Logged

                            It's a very good idea to have the option to remain anonymous.  When I win the big $$ I'm going to do everything I can do protect my privacy.  No reporters, no cameras, no interviews.  All communication will be done via my attorney.  The Internet can provide too much information about a winner and his/her family.  Safety is paramount with big wins.  Cool