If the $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot winner wants to remain anonymous, they can do so. According to Illinois Lottery rules and regulations, winners who win more than $250,000 can request privacy. An increasing number of state legislators want to provide lottery winners with privacy and security by granting them anonymity.
Gregg Edgar, executive director of the Arizona Lottery, told NPR that lawmakers have been changing the way lotteries run and adding anonymity clauses as a result of a minor trend in the sector over the previous four or five years.
Lottery winners in Arizona used to be able to keep their identities secret for only 90 days before their information was made public. For those who win $100,000 or more, the organization now says that they can choose to keep their identity a secret for life.
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Why do so few states offer anonymity?
According to the non-profit North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, most jurisdictions do not allow players to remain anonymous.
“State and provincial lawmakers want the public to know that the lottery is honestly run and so require that at a minimum the name of the winner and their city of residence be made,” its website reads. “This way the public can be reassured that the prize really was paid out to a real person.”
Edgar said that he has a fiduciary duty to Arizona’s budget to be open about how the organization makes and spends money.
“For a lot of us, we look at it as — this is public funds, this is public [money], we need to make sure that we’re transparent and that people can see that there are winners that come through,” he said. In order to ensure the safety of the winners, he said, transparency must be weighed against transparency.
As prizes continue to climb, Edgar expects similar efforts to preserve lottery winners’ identities in other jurisdictions.
Public records laws vary from state to state
The majority of states, including Vermont, do not allow people to remain anonymous.
“While the Lottery does routinely honor requests from winners not to post their personal information on social media, any person can still request to obtain copy of, or to inspect, records produced or acquired by the Lottery in the course of its business under the Vermont Public Records Act,” stated Wendy Knight, commissioner of the state’s liquor and lottery department, in a statement.
“Any player who is concerned about privacy and security issues related to claiming a prize may want to obtain professional services through an accountant, attorney, tax adviser and/or other consultant to assess and strategize about their available options and decide what makes the most sense for them,” Knight added.
Privacy and security are listed as reasons why lottery winners should remain anonymous by lawmakers. It’s now illegal in Missouri to reveal the identity of a lottery winner, thanks to a 2021 law. A previous article from the AP stated that the legislation’s proponents hoped to safeguard prize winners from threats and harassment when others learned of their accomplishments.
Your state lottery website is the best place to find information on anonymity in your area. For more such updates do follow us only on Lee Daily