Should lottery winners' names be secret? States debate issue

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Even a jackpot isn't enough to buy anonymity for many lottery winners, whose names are often made public by state law.

See Full Article

But now it's becoming increasingly possible for big winners to hide their identity, and lottery executives are trying to strike a balance between ensuring privacy and safety while still proving to the public that real people can win.

Jackpot winners "get a big old target painted on their backs," said Andrew Stoltmann, an Illinois attorney who has represented winners. When their names are released "they get harassed and harangued into some horrifically bad investments."

Forcing people to reveal their names, he added, is like "throwing meat into a shark-infested ocean."

On the other hand, allowing winners to collect jackpots in secret invites public suspicion and makes it easier for cheating to go undetected, according to gambling experts and others.

Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina allow winners to remain anonymous. A growing number of other states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, will award prizes to a trust and allow a trustee -- usually an attorney -- to collect without disclosing the name of the ticket holder.

States including Illinois and Oregon have made exceptions to their policy of disclosure when winners demonstrate a high risk of harm.

Bills to keep lottery winners names confidential failed in North Carolina and New York in the last few years. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 vetoed a bill that called for a one-year delay in releasing names, saying it could reduce lottery sales by hampering marketing and muting public excitement when winners are announced. Similar measures have also been introduced in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Advocates of privacy cite cases in which winners saw their lives upended after their wealth became widely known.

One example cited by Don McNay, a Richmond, Kentucky, financial adviser who also has represented lottery winners, is Abraham Shakespeare, a Lakeland, Florida, janitor won a cash payout of $17 million in the Florida lottery in 2006.

Shakespeare appeared before cameras with family members, holding an oversized check. He had spent or given away most of his prize by the time he met Dorice Dee Dee Moore in late 2008. She tracked him down, befriended him and within a few months became his financial adviser, with control over his remaining money and his home.

Shakespeare disappeared in April 2009 at age 42. His body was found nine months later, encased in concrete and buried behind the home of Moore's ex-boyfriend. Shakespeare had been shot twice in the chest.

The 44-year-old Moore, convicted of his murder, is serving a life prison sentence.

Oregon typically requires public release of winners' names, but the state lottery allowed a man from Baghdad to remain anonymous after he won an Aug. 24 Megabucks drawing worth $6.4 million. The man, who purchased the ticket on an international website, said the jackpot would place his family in danger if his identity were known.

Critics complain that allowing winners to hide their identity is a convenient way to conceal criminal activity.

Anonymity "throws a layer of assistance to someone who wants to rig a drawing," said Dan Russell, former attorney for the Florida Lottery and now a private-practice attorney representing major casinos and gambling industry manufacturers. "It is of no value to those of us who want the system to operate in a clean manner. That is absolutely the wrong idea."

The risk of anonymous winners came to light after a lottery insider fixed numbers in several games over several years.

Iowa prosecutors say a computer expert working for the Multi-State Lottery Association, or MUSL, which runs games for 37 member states and U.S. territories, figured out how to rig number-generating computers to pick his set of numbers.

Authorities believe Eddie Tipton and his associates successfully cashed in tickets in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, netting more than $2.6 million in payouts. Tipton was convicted of fraud in July for attempting to claim a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot in Iowa. He faces charges additional charges in Iowa related to the other four states.

The requirement that names be made public was "the layer of security he couldn't break," Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said.

Gary Grief, chairman of the Powerball committee for MUSL, insists he has complete confidence in the integrity of the time-tested ball-drawing system, and he still supports revealing winners' names.

Name disclosure is "a positive thing to reinforce to players that real people do win and that those real people don't work for the lottery or aren't involved with lottery," he said.

A Powerball-type game has not had a high-profile scandal since 1980, the year of the so-called "triple six fix," in which a lottery insider and others secretly weighted balls with paint so only a few combinations of numbers could surface in the Pennsylvania Daily Number game.

The seven men bet heavily on those combinations. The winning number was 666, which yielded $1.8 million. But they were caught, prosecuted and most of the money was recovered.

"The worst thing that could ever happen to the lottery," McNay said, "is people feeling like it's fixed."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Model claims Zimbabwe's first lady whipped her with extension cord

    World News CTV News
    JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's first lady remained out of sight Friday, several days after a young model claimed Grace Mugabe whipped her with an extension cord in a luxury hotel in South Africa. South African authorities are weighing a request by Zimbabwe's government for diplomatic immunity for the first lady, who has not commented since the alleged assault Sunday night. Source
  • What we know about the suspected Barcelona, Cambrils attackers

    World News CBC News
    Three people have been arrested and five suspects are dead following the vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain on Thursday and early Friday. Spanish authorities say two people were arrested shortly after the attack in Barcelona — a Moroccan and a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa — but neither is believed to be the driver of the van that plowed into pedestrians in the city's picturesque Las Ramblas district, killing 13 people and injuring more than…
  • Buildings renamed, monuments fall as Indigenous oppression is acknowledged

    Canada News CBC News
    While Canadians observing the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., may feel assured this country does not have hundreds of U.S. Civil War monuments, some statues and buildings divide Canadians along similar lines. One is the statue in Halifax of Edward Cornwallis, a governor of Nova Scotia and a military officer credited by the British for founding the city in 1749. Source
  • Minor leak balloons into major web outage at StatsCan: documents

    Canada News CBC News
    An incident involving a leaky air conditioner at Statistics Canada's Ottawa data centre in June mushroomed into a major outage that, among other problems, left some exporters' trucks stuck at the American border. The rapid escalation of a minor spill into a 30-hour crisis was no accidental series of escalating events, says the former head of the agency. Source
  • Indigenous warriors find a new weapon: the cellphone

    Canada News CBC News
    Every few months in Saskatchewan, a racial incident blows up and captures national headlines. The incident is typically followed by public demonstrations, social media reactions and racist remarks. This repeated friction is beginning to define Indigenous-white relations in the province. Source
  • Western farmers worry they'll pay the price of saving supply management under NAFTA

    Canada News CBC News
    Kevin Auch has been putting in long hours on his southern Alberta farm harvesting durum wheat — and also fretting about distant trade negotiations that may affect the price. He wasn't pleased, earlier this week, when Canada's foreign affairs minister vowed to defend supply management on Canadian farms in the NAFTA negotiations just getting underway. Source
  • Removal not the only way to deal with racist relics, historians say

    World News CBC News
    As momentum builds to tear down monuments and rename buildings that are deemed racist relics of the past, some historians say offensive memorials should remain intact to deepen education and even bridge divides. Hundreds of statues remain across the U.S. Source
  • For ISIS, Barcelona is another trophy to add to tally of attacks on Europe's iconic sites

    World News CBC News
    The deadly attack on locals and tourists walking through Barcelona's Las Ramblas district is part of a strategy on the part of ISIS to target popular destinations in major cities across Europe and a signal that any major metropolitan area could be hit, say some who have studied similar attacks. Source
  • Ex neo-Nazi says Charlottesville protest an opportunity for parents to combat hate

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - A former neo-Nazi from Vancouver says the violence in Charlottesville, Va., presents an opportunity for parents and educators to become more aware of how easily youth can be lured into a seemingly exciting but potentially deadly world of hate. Source
  • Demand across Canada outpaces supply for solar eclipse glasses

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Ali Van Orman is still looking for specialized glasses to protect her family's eyes during Monday's solar eclipse because she never counted on demand totally eclipsing supply. She tried to buy a coveted pair of solar eclipse glasses for herself and two children from Amazon back in July, but the hot commodities wouldn't have arrived in time. Source