The old debate of should lottery winners be given the choice to stay anonymous has once again come up. A new bill could be passed giving lottery players in West Virginia the option to not go public with their huge lottery wins.
With the Powerball lotto game reaching an astronomical $1.6 billion in January of this year, the West Virginia Lottery public check presentations might just come to an abrupt end to jackpot winners may be over if a bill currently in the legislature is passed.
If the new Bill 4505 would allow winners of big lottery jackpots to not make their names and faces known to the public to claim their prizes. Under the bill, the Powerball lotter, the Mega Millions lottery and the Hot Lotto winners can opt to remain anonymous.
In the event that you win the lotto, you would need to contact the lottery director at the West Virginia Lottery headquarters in Charleston via certified mail or email. Once the lotto winners has done so, they would then schedule an appointment to meet in-person to confirm the win.
The acting director of the West Virginia Lottery, John Myers, said that he is in no way in favour of it.
During a telephone interview on Wednesday, he said, “Players who play our games expect a certain level of transparency, including the advertising of the jackpot winners. Players want to make sure someone actually won the money. That's one of the things that sets Powerball apart from other games: Advertising the winner creates excitement and gets people wanting to play."
The lead sponsor of the bill, Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, introduced it after a constituent approached him on the matter.
On one hand we have lottery officials that say, transparency is everything when it comes the lottery.
"We hold press events when someone wins a large jackpot, and the benefit of that is that people aren't knocking on the winner's door after asking for an interview or asking for money. We can also tell the winner things they can do to manage their winnings in the long run," Myers said. "They say you have more friends and relatives after you win the lottery, and I get that privacy is an argument, but the people asking for money usually go away after a period of time."
On the other hand, “if the lottery winners stayed anonymous, it would prevent friends, neighbours and relatives from asking the winners for money,” Myers said he thinks that is more likely to happen if people don't know who the winners are.
Skinner said he thinks the opposite is true.
"If they know who you are, they will come begging to you," Skinner said. "If you look at a lot of the people who have won the lottery, it ruined their lives." He carried on saying that, “The press events that occur when someone wins the lottery are "free publicity for the West Virginia Lottery." To further validate his argument, he also said that due to the fact that its free publicity, that winners should have the option to decline participating in press events, and that they should also be paid by the Lottery for the publicity.
"I think a lot of people are interested to see what happens with this bill, especially after the big billion-dollar Powerball game we just had. That got people fantasizing about winning the lottery," Skinner said. "Whether you win $500, $5,000 or $50 million, you should have the right to privacy."
As far as the bill goes, it cleared the House on Monday, 29th February, 2016, passing with a 95-3 vote, and is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Myers said that if the bill becomes law, the West Virginia Lottery would have to review its privacy procedures, and said he is unsure if the privacy law would apply only to big jackpots or to all West Virginia Lottery games.
At the moment, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina are the only states allowing lottery winners to remain anonymous.
Gary Grief, chairman of the Powerball committee for MUSL, says he has complete confidence in the integrity of the time-tested ball-drawing system, and he will always support revealing winners' names.
He said that name disclosure is "a positive thing to reinforce to players that real people do win and that those real people don't work for the lottery or aren't involved with lottery."
At the end of the day, the most important opinion is that of the lottery player. Let us know if you would prefer not having the world know you have just become a multimillionaire, or whether you would prefer to remain anonymous.
Let us know in the comments section below and earn valuable LottoPoints at the same time.
Good luck gaming!
The PlayUSALotteries.com Team
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