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Mo. House Panel Mulls Privacy for Lottery Winners

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Lottery would not be able to release the names and addresses of prize winners under a bill presented to a Missouri House committee on Thursday.

Sponsoring Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, of Black Jack, told the House Local Government Committee that winning the lottery can subject a person to hardship.

She cited constant phone calls, harassment and loss of privacy as consequences of people knowing the identities of lottery winners. She also said winning big prizes could even result in death. A Chicago man died in July just before he was to collect a $425,000 prize from a scratch-off ticket. His death was ruled a homicide in January.

But Philip Smith of the Missouri Lottery told committee members that revealing a winner’s identity provides legitimacy to the lottery.

“To ensure the integrity and to have the public have confidence in our games they have to know that people do win prizes by people purchasing tickets,” he said.

Walton Gray said she understands the need to sell tickets and would agree to a compromise that would keep some personal information secret.

Smith said the lottery tries to respect the wishes of winners to remain anonymous, but the identities of prize winners are subject to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, making identity information available to open records request.

Of the 44 states with lottery games, only Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio allow blanket anonymity for winners. Other states, including Michigan, New Jersey and Arizona, are considering similar privacy protections.

The lottery privacy bill is HB805 and can be read here.

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