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Representative J. Eggleston (R-Maysville)

 If you won the lottery today, everyone is going to know about it.  That’s because the names of all large lottery and lotto winners in Missouri and their hometowns are published.  But by September that may change.

HB 402 would make it illegal for the lottery commission to publish the name of a lottery winner unless the winner consents to going public.  Being a publicly known lottery winner has its possible downsides.  These include old acquaintances asking for some of the money and journalists camping outside a winner’s house in hopes of getting a story.  Some winners have even been robbed, subject to bomb threats, or been hit with frivolous lawsuits from people hoping to profit from a settlement.

But not everyone thinks winner anonymity is a good thing.  A lobbyist for the Missouri Press Association testified against the bill citing that publicizing the winners helps advertise the game, and helps root out cheaters.  In one instance of cheating in Iowa, a computer programmer working for the Multi-State Lottery Association snuck some code in the software helping him figure out what the next winning numbers would be.  When he cashed in the ticket, his name became public and he became recognized as a lottery employee.  He is now serving time for the crime.

Often times, bill debate on the House floor can get intense.  But in a moment of levity on this bill, one member spoke and said “I’m voting for this bill because when I win the lottery I’m outta here, and I don’t want any of y’all hitting me up for money.”  That got a good chuckle from the members and the gallery.  In the end, the bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

Currently, lottery winners in Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas can remain anonymous.  If Governor Parson signs HB 402, Missouri will be added to that list.  He has until mid-July to make up his mind.

Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.

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