Missouri lawmakers vote to keep lottery winners secret

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The identity of Missouri Lottery winners could be kept secret under legislation sent to Gov. Mike Parson that would reverse the state's current policy of publicizing winners.

The bill, which received final approval Wednesday in the Senate, would make it a misdemeanor for the lottery or its contractors to publicize the identity of lottery winners, unless the winners ask for their names to be made known. The bill previously passed the House.

Sponsoring Rep. Jay Mosley said his intent is to protect lottery winners from being harassed or threatened by others who hear or read about their success.

"The last thing we want is for the excitement of winning the lottery to be replaced with a sense of fear because the newfound money draws unwanted attention," Mosely, a Democrat from Florissant, said in a statement Thursday. 

The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries says all but a very few states require the names and cities of winners to be made public. The intent is "to assure the public that there are real winners," the association says on its website.

The Missouri Lottery said it currently publicizes winners' names, the amount they won, the game they played and the retail location that sold the winning ticket. It said publicity about winners is vital to boosting sales, especially when funding for advertising is cut by the Legislature. Keeping winners secret also could adversely affect the 4,800 lottery retailers who are aided by showing that people won prizes at their locations, the lottery said. 

The bill "impedes the Lottery's ability to transparently provide information to Missourians about the hundreds of people who win large prizes monthly," Jay Boresi, the lottery's director of legal services, said in a statement Thursday.

Under the legislation, winners still could provide written authorization for their names, addresses and other information to be publicized. But the publicity form could only be provided upon the request of the lottery winner and not offered unsolicited by the lottery.