Should Lottery Winners Be Anonymous?

Feb 17, 2014

Credit Illinois Lottery

  Winning big in the Lottery is also a ticket to a lot of media attention. Amanda Vinicky reports on an effort to keep winners' identities secret.

Every now and then, Rep. Will Davis plays the Lottery.

"And I was just thinking if I was fortunate enough to win, I don't know if I would want my name or be required to publicize if I was a winner. And just for the record I'm not, so," says Davis, laughing.

But he's concerned about the people who do win ... fearful that a big announcement makes a sudden millionaire an easy victim for scam artists. Davis, a Democrat from Homewood, proposes prohibiting the state from disclosing a winners' name without authorization.

Illinois Lottery Director Michael Jones says there's a historic reason for requiring winners' names be made public.

"That stemmed from a great deal of controversy surrounding fraud that was committed by lotteries in the 1870s, 1880s, that would sell lots and lots of lottery tickets and then award the prizes to their friends and or relatives. And so in reaction to that, lotteries were banned for many years," Jones says. "Until the '60s. And when they were brought back this was one of the stipulations put into place."

Nevertheless, Jones says in the new era of social media and mega prizes, protecting a winner's privacy is something to consider.