If a bill in the Arizona legislature passes lottery winners in the state will be able to remain anonymous. The bill is being pushed through the House of Representatives by a Republican lawmaker who says shouldn’t face dangers just because they wave win a large sum of money. State Representative John Kavanagh’s proposal comes shortly after a recent Powerball jackpot won by a man in Phoenix raised security and safety questions. Kavanagh says the public outing of winners disrupts lives and puts the lives of winners at risk. Currently only a few states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.
Kavanagh’s bill would still require the disclosure of the winner’s town and would allow the Arizona lottery to give out a large check publicly if winners agree to the publicity. Legislators in two other states are proposing similar measures designed to allow winners to remain anonymous for their own protection. In many states lottery officials disagree saying that releasing the names of winners reassures players that there is nothing dishonest going on such as rigged games. Kavanagh stated “I understand the argument, but we’re talking here about a person’s safety, a person’s being able to live a calm, normal life forever.”
Kavanagh’s bill had a committee hearing and drew opposition from a lawyer representing the Arizona Republic and Phoenix television station KPNX, and argued that the bill has good intentions but would have unintended consequences. David Bodney, the media outlets’ lawyer, pointed out that the lottery distributes hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds. Bodney said the bill would impair public accountability. He also said that the bill would also limit the appearance of fairness by hindering the ability of the public to monitor the lottery’s actions.
Bodney said that providing anonymity would make it impossible to uncover fraud. He said the bill would give a small group special protection at the expense of the public. The measure passed on a 7-2 vote. So far no companion bill has been introduced in the state senate. Of the 44 states offering Powerball only Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio allow winners to remain anonymous. Allowing winners to remain anonymous could help to avoid tragedies like the murder of Abraham Shakespeare in Florida and Mr. Khan of Chicago who was poisoned for his lottery winnings.