Bill would make lottery winners secret

A measure that would require the state lottery to include a warning label (“You will probably lose money playing the lottery”) is finding favor as it works its way through the legislature.

But for those who, against all odds, actually win, perhaps another warning is needed: You will probably be hounded by cousins you didn’t even know you had.

State Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, seeks to help those lucky few avoid such annoyances by striking the names of lottery winners from the public record.

If a winner expressly allows it, the state lottery could release the name “for marketing, advertising, or promotional purposes.”

Otherwise, the public doesn’t get to know.

Bowling told a Senate subcommittee earlier this week that she was alerted to the issue from a constituent and she doesn’t want lottery winners harassed by those who would seek to sell them something or take their money.

A representative from the lottery testified at the subcommittee that not allowing the lottery to  use the name of winners would hurt the integrity of the lottery, allowing for suspicion on who actually won or if someone won. The lottery clearly wants to use big winners in its advertising — a winner sells more tickets.

Already the law has some protection against gold digger types who might want to track down a winner. Tennessee Code 4-51-124 makes confidential a winner’s “home and work addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and any other information that could reasonably be used to locate the whereabouts of an individual.”

Bowling’s bill, carried in the House by state Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, goes a step further and allows even the name of the winner to be secret.

The bill passed out of the subcommittee, but not before state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, noted that winners did choose to play the state game.

S.B. 2060 has been placed on the Senate State & Local Government Committee calendar for Tuesday, March 4.


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