New law comes into effect September 1
By Kate Northrop
Minnesota will join the growing list of states that allow players to claim lottery prizes anonymously when a new law goes into effect granting winners of certain big prizes the option to withhold their names from the public record.
On Friday, Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law that will allow lottery winners of prizes over $10,000 to keep their names private.
The bill passed through the Minnesota Legislature unanimously and will go into effect Sept. 1. The law also applies to winners of $10,000 or more in second-chance drawings. Players will still have the ability to provide written consent to the Minnesota Lottery to release their name.
Sponsors of the bill claimed that it would provide protection for lottery winners whose safety is jeopardized by having their prize amount, name, and city of residence published for all to see. Lawmakers referred to other notable instances in other states in which winners were robbed, scammed, and killed after their identifying information went public.
House Representative Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn originally introduced the bill and argued that, even though a player's phone number and address may remain private when claiming a prize, targeting a winner and finding that information through other means is still feasible.
"With technology the way it is, it's certainly much easier to find a lot of information about anyone, and oftentimes more information than they may want shared," Kotyza-Witthuhn said.
Prior to the law being passed, Minnesota Lottery Executive Director Adam Prock noted that the Lottery takes steps to cater to players' privacy preferences as much as possible. For example, the Lottery might use only a winner's first name in press releases, advertising, and on social media.
"Winners are not required to have their photo taken, share their stories or participate in news conferences if they choose not to," Prock explained. "... The Lottery works closely with all winners on a case-by-case basis to ensure their needs are met, including winners who choose to maintain a very low profile."
At the same time, the Lottery aims to demonstrate a level of transparency by publicly featuring winners from across the state, which it hopes will increase player confidence in the organization.
"The balance between lottery integrity and player security is something that we consider every day," Prock continued. "Both are vital to our mission as a state agency."