Editorial: Lottery Winners Shouldn’t Be Anonymous

A new bill pending in the Senate, S-2267, directs the State Lottery Commission to amend its regulations so that the identities of lottery winners are not accessible under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). The bill offers the winners of the lottery lifetime anonymity.

In 2013, former Governor Christie vetoed a similar bill that
would have allowed lottery winners to remain anonymous for one year because he
claimed it “could
undermine the transparency that provides taxpayers confidence in the integrity
of the Lottery and its games
.” Similar bills have recently failed in other
states, with Governor Cuomo recently vetoing
such a bill
in New York.

S-2267 raises major concerns. While his track record on transparency is notoriously pretty bad, on this issue Governor Christie was right.

Without disclosure of the name of the winner(s), what combats

What will prevent lottery insiders from rigging the game? (It
has happened

What will prevent the person who purchased tickets for the office pool from collecting the cash anonymously and quietly resigning without telling co-workers that the office pool tickets won? (Similar things have happened!)

What will give lottery ticket purchasers confidence that the
money was really distributed to a legitimate winner and that the Commission
didn’t just make up a fake winner and pocket all the profits?

It’s true that “lottery fame” can be a hassle and that many
winners describe winning as both the best and worst thing to happen to them.
But, transparency is important. It guards against corruption and reassures
lottery ticket purchasers that the money was properly awarded to a legitimate
winner in a fair game.

Those who do not want the fame that comes from winning millions
and millions of dollars should opt out of playing the game. Otherwise, when you
buy a lottery ticket, you do so with the understanding that the public has a
right to know who the lucky winner is.

CJ Griffin

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