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Lottery officials say identifying winners a must

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States wrestle with winners' privacy vs. integrity of games

SACRAMENTO — In the California lottery handbook for winners, officials offer a few suggestions to newly minted millionaires. Change your number. Stop answering your phone. And find a reputable financial adviser.

That's because along with the money comes 15 minutes of fame as the names of winners are required to be made public in California and many other states.

All eyes are on the Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills, where one of three tickets in Wednesday night's record-breaking $1.6 billion Powerball drawing was purchased. No one has come forward to claim the prize in California.

"We're waiting for who this person is," said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California Lottery.

Traverso said large jackpots like the one in Wednesday's drawing drive debate over whether the names of lottery winners should be made public. Past winners have complained of being besieged by con artists and swindled by friends.

Millionaire slain

Critics of the disclosure laws often point to the case of Abraham Shakespeare, who won $30 million in the Florida lottery in 2006, and three years later, was killed by a woman who managed his winnings. (See Woman found guilty of murder in lottery winner's death, Lottery Post, Dec. 11, 2012.)

Andrew Stoltmann, an Illinois attorney who has represented winners, told the Associated Press that making winners' names public is like "throwing meat into a shark-infested ocean."

But lottery officials say it's important public information to ensure the drawings are transparent and to deter would-be cheaters.

"We want people to know we have winners every day," Traverso said. "If people don't see people winning the lottery, then they won't buy tickets. ... The only time we hear talk of changing the regulations to allow anonymity is when we have jackpots like (Wednesday's)."

Besides Chino Hills, the two other winning Powerball tickets were purchased in Munford, Tenn., and Melbourne Beach, Fla. A Tennessee couple, John and Lisa Robinson, announced on the "Today" show on Friday that they were the winners from their state.

Tennessee lottery officials later confirmed the couple were the winners in an afternoon news conference. The family plans to take a lump sum payout of $327 million. (See Tennessee couple claims share of $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot, Lottery Post, Jan. 15, 2016.)

Showed ticket on TV

John Robinson, who pulled the winning ticket from his shirt pocket on the "Today" show, said he realized he was losing his anonymity after the announcement.

"Now I'll be nervous because everybody knows," he said on the broadcast.

(See Lottery veterans question Tennessee family's behavior before claiming Powerball winnings, Lottery Post, Jan. 16, 2016.)

All three states with winning Powerball tickets have laws requiring the identity of the winner to be made public. In Tennessee and Florida, the states' lottery policy is to identify a person's name and city of residence.

California requires that a person's name be made public, but not their city. Lottery officials include the person's name, where the ticket was purchased and how much was won in press releases.

"You aren't compelled to do a press conference or have your picture taken, but we are going to release your name because it's public information," Traverso said. "We want people to know the lottery is creating winners, and we want to be sensitive to our winners that they may not want their details thrown out there to the world."

California has required that the names of winners be made public since voters first passed Proposition 37, also known as the California State Lottery Act, in 1984. Changing the antianonymity law would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and approval of the governor.

Only six states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous — Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. Some states allow winners to shield their identity by claiming their winnings through a trust or a limited liability company.

No anonymity in state

In recent years, several states have considered changing their laws to allow for winners to protect their identity. California lawmakers have not taken up the issue — and with good reason, said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

"Winners need to be public so the public has faith in the lottery," Ting said. "Beneficiary anonymity cannot overshadow governmental accountability to the public."

SF Chronicle, Lottery Post Staff

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59 comments. Last comment 10 months ago by sirbrad.
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The Quantum Master
West Concord, MN
United States
Member #21
December 7, 2001
3675 Posts
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Posted: January 19, 2016, 12:29 pm - IP Logged

You want big bucks, you get big problems, you buy big security, you can afford it.

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Use at your own risk.

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Jehocifer

    TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
    A long and winding road
    United States
    Member #17084
    June 10, 2005
    4529 Posts
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    Posted: January 19, 2016, 12:34 pm - IP Logged

    No different then when a person has criminal charges, names are published. No different when awards are authenticated thru Drawings by business's  (McD's, Publishers Clearinghouse), so why not the lottery. Refrain from playing if you are that concerned about your welfare. No amount of money can heal one from paranoia or the likes. Being sensible is one thing as its natural to protect ones environment. I have zero desire to hound or even meet a person who won such allotment. Its not my business. What is my business is the right to know that the winner is legitimate and that the funds were awarded properly upon verification.

    Save anonymity for when doing a good deed, no one need know then.

    ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

     Thanks be to the giving numbers: 1621,912,119 02014

      One2win's avatar - Trek Galaxy2.gif
      MyTown
      Bahamas
      Member #167573
      July 20, 2015
      230 Posts
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      Posted: January 19, 2016, 1:11 pm - IP Logged

       "Beneficiary anonymity cannot overshadow governmental accountability to the public"

      What a farce, governmental accountability, bull<snip>e!  When they are accountable for the things that are really important, like informing the public that each and everyone of us can be surveilled, tracked and watched through our phones, t.v.'s and other electronic equipment designed for that purpose - then I'll believe in "governmental accountability to the pubic"  Bunch of peeping Toms who just want to dig up in ya business, that's what I know.

      This post has been automatically changed by the Lottery Post computer system to remove inappropriate content and/or spam.

      Success is liking yourself, what you do and how you do it!

      Psalm 122:6

        sirbrad's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
        PA
        United States
        Member #22983
        October 6, 2005
        2226 Posts
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        Posted: January 19, 2016, 1:37 pm - IP Logged

        The lottery cares more about making money and the integrity of the game than it does about the winner's welfare. But most of those who had problems were already shady to begin with and from all those normal people and families I have seen win they have not had any problems from what I have heard. Most who did were already ex cons, drug addicts, etc so the lottery only compounded their problems. The West family won $340 million in 2007 and were all over the media for a long time.

        Now today most don't even remember them. People only remember Jack Whittaker, David Edwards, Marie Holmes and idiot sauce. Everyone wants to know who won and that real people are winning, except for those who win then they want to remain anonymous. You can't have it both ways. People paying to play should know there are real winners. There is a lot of crime out there anyway and many who won the lottery had no problems also unless they were previously shady or were really stupid. All states should be the SAME also not only certain ones allowing you to be anonymous. That is BS.

          Avatar
          San Diego, CA
          United States
          Member #58386
          February 12, 2008
          287 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: January 19, 2016, 1:58 pm - IP Logged

          I couldn't disagree more with the stance of these lottery commissions.

          Auditor's can verify there is a winner.

           

          There are a lot of solutions for a winner.

          Moving to another part of the country.

          Legally changing one's name.

          Winner's should not have to do these things but that is the way it is.

          If I win, I am not telling anyone including friends.  Only trusted family members would find out.

            ArizonaDream's avatar - Lottery-009.jpg

            United States
            Member #169277
            October 10, 2015
            630 Posts
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            Posted: January 19, 2016, 2:02 pm - IP Logged

            I can see both sides of the argument. The best way to go may be a 90 day delay on releasing the info, at least give the winner some time to move, hire security, whatever they need to do.

              cbr$'s avatar - maren
              Cordova,Al.
              United States
              Member #104482
              January 15, 2011
              4922 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: January 19, 2016, 2:11 pm - IP Logged

              States wrestle with winners' privacy vs. integrity of games

              In the California lottery handbook for winners, officials offer a few suggestions to newly minted millionaires. Change your number. Stop answering your phone. And find a reputable financial adviser.

              That's because along with the money comes 15 minutes of fame as the names of winners are required to be made public in California and many other states.

              All eyes are on the Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills, where one of three tickets in Wednesday night's record-breaking $1.6 billion Powerball drawing was purchased. No one has come forward to claim the prize in California.

              "We're waiting for who this person is," said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California Lottery.

              Traverso said large jackpots like the one in Wednesday's drawing drive debate over whether the names of lottery winners should be made public. Past winners have complained of being besieged by con artists and swindled by friends.

              Millionaire slain

              Critics of the disclosure laws often point to the case of Abraham Shakespeare, who won $30 million in the Florida lottery in 2006, and three years later, was killed by a woman who managed his winnings. (See Woman found guilty of murder in lottery winner's death, Lottery Post, Dec. 11, 2012.)

              Andrew Stoltmann, an Illinois attorney who has represented winners, told the Associated Press that making winners' names public is like "throwing meat into a shark-infested ocean."

              But lottery officials say it's important public information to ensure the drawings are transparent and to deter would-be cheaters.

              "We want people to know we have winners every day," Traverso said. "If people don't see people winning the lottery, then they won't buy tickets. ... The only time we hear talk of changing the regulations to allow anonymity is when we have jackpots like (Wednesday's)."

              Besides Chino Hills, the two other winning Powerball tickets were purchased in Munford, Tenn., and Melbourne Beach, Fla. A Tennessee couple, John and Lisa Robinson, announced on the "Today" show on Friday that they were the winners from their state.

              Tennessee lottery officials later confirmed the couple were the winners in an afternoon news conference. The family plans to take a lump sum payout of $327 million. (See Tennessee couple claims share of $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot, Lottery Post, Jan. 15, 2016.)

              Showed ticket on TV

              John Robinson, who pulled the winning ticket from his shirt pocket on the "Today" show, said he realized he was losing his anonymity after the announcement.

              "Now I'll be nervous because everybody knows," he said on the broadcast.

              (See Lottery veterans question Tennessee family's behavior before claiming Powerball winnings, Lottery Post, Jan. 16, 2016.)

              All three states with winning Powerball tickets have laws requiring the identity of the winner to be made public. In Tennessee and Florida, the states' lottery policy is to identify a person's name and city of residence.

              California requires that a person's name be made public, but not their city. Lottery officials include the person's name, where the ticket was purchased and how much was won in press releases.

              "You aren't compelled to do a press conference or have your picture taken, but we are going to release your name because it's public information," Traverso said. "We want people to know the lottery is creating winners, and we want to be sensitive to our winners that they may not want their details thrown out there to the world."

              California has required that the names of winners be made public since voters first passed Proposition 37, also known as the California State Lottery Act, in 1984. Changing the antianonymity law would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and approval of the governor.

              Only six states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous — Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. Some states allow winners to shield their identity by claiming their winnings through a trust or a limited liability company.

              No anonymity in state

              In recent years, several states have considered changing their laws to allow for winners to protect their identity. California lawmakers have not taken up the issue — and with good reason, said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

              "Winners need to be public so the public has faith in the lottery," Ting said. "Beneficiary anonymity cannot overshadow governmental accountability to the public."

              I can't see why, your name , the state you live in- Not the City!  Where you purchase the winning ticket. Couldn't be enough accountability for releasing to the public. There are service here on the site / it a ad. that pop up you get can any phone you want. Sure, totally complete the form requirement. By not giving the city where the person lives. Any one who want to be annoying has to search a entire state to try to find you. I have yet to see any branch of our government be this accountable.

                Avatar
                New York
                United States
                Member #157288
                July 14, 2014
                170 Posts
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                Posted: January 19, 2016, 2:53 pm - IP Logged

                "governmental accountability" Oxymoron especially coming from California...

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                  Sweden
                  Member #153629
                  March 20, 2014
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                  Posted: January 19, 2016, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

                  Anonymity works with Lotteries played in Europe, why does US authorities belive they are so different from Europe? There is no argument that people would stop buying tickets if they don't see who wins in the US.

                  Return of Investment, ROI 2014 20% | ROI 2015 20% | ROI 2016 14,45%

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                    Germany
                    Member #164603
                    March 8, 2015
                    613 Posts
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                    Posted: January 19, 2016, 3:08 pm - IP Logged

                    Anonymity works with Lotteries played in Europe, why does US authorities belive they are so different from Europe? There is no argument that people would stop buying tickets if they don't see who wins in the US.

                    It's especially idiotic seeing how 5 states allow for anonymity and other states let winner claim by trust.

                      sirbrad's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
                      PA
                      United States
                      Member #22983
                      October 6, 2005
                      2226 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: January 19, 2016, 4:00 pm - IP Logged

                      I couldn't disagree more with the stance of these lottery commissions.

                      Auditor's can verify there is a winner.

                       

                      There are a lot of solutions for a winner.

                      Moving to another part of the country.

                      Legally changing one's name.

                      Winner's should not have to do these things but that is the way it is.

                      If I win, I am not telling anyone including friends.  Only trusted family members would find out.

                      What about corrupt auditors who were paid off? That is what people would be thinking. Far more likely than thousands of winners being paid off and eventually would blow the whistle if their money ran out and they did not get more.

                        Avatar

                        United States
                        Member #163996
                        February 15, 2015
                        68 Posts
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                        Posted: January 19, 2016, 4:10 pm - IP Logged

                        It's especially idiotic seeing how 5 states allow for anonymity and other states let winner claim by trust.

                        Good point!

                         

                        I read an article a few days ago about a Trust within a Trust to protect winners identities.

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                          Wisconsin
                          United States
                          Member #104962
                          January 23, 2011
                          1075 Posts
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                          Posted: January 19, 2016, 6:00 pm - IP Logged

                          "Winners need to be public so the public has faith in the lottery," Ting said. "Beneficiary anonymity cannot overshadow governmental accountability to the public."

                          The same states, and other places winning doesn't create faith in the lottery either.  Play your state lottery, stop giving communist california your money.

                          Trump 2016!

                            dpoly1's avatar - driver
                            PA
                            United States
                            Member #66141
                            October 16, 2008
                            1672 Posts
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                            Posted: January 19, 2016, 7:34 pm - IP Logged

                            "governmental accountability" Oxymoron especially coming from California...

                            I Agree!  100%

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