Bill Would Protect Identities Of Minnesota Jackpot Winners
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Future lottery jackpot winners in Minnesota could be allowed to remain anonymous under a bill making its way through the Legislature.
The proposed legislation calls for a one-word change to state law that would put Minnesota among the handful of states that allow lottery winners to keep their identities secret, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. The bill recently cleared the Senate State Government Finance and Policy Committee, and it’s set for review by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Lottery winners currently don’t have to pose with an oversized check, share the details about their lives or even attend the Minnesota Lottery’s jackpot celebrations, but their names are still made public.
The lottery’s executive director, Robert Doty, said the names are made public to help assure the public that lottery isn’t rigged and that real players win.
U.S. lotteries have been rigged. The former information security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association admitted to manipulating the software used by lotteries in several states so that he could predict winning numbers on certain days of the year. Authorities say he, his brother and a friend used that insider knowledge to buy winning tickets and collect millions in prizes between 2005 and 2011. The ringleader was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Critics, though, say winners should be allowed to remain anonymous to protect them from abuse.
“Again and again you will hear of (lottery winners) being harassed and hounded,” said Republican Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer. She said winning the lottery is “a great gift,” but that not being allowed to remain anonymous makes it harder for winners to manage the big life changes that come with hitting the jackpot.
Democratic Sen. Ann Rest, who co-sponsored the bill, said privacy should outweigh the lottery’s concerns about perception.
“In my mind, the balance tips in favor of the individual,” Rest said.