The state of Michigan is considering a bill that would allow lottery winners to remain anonymous if they so choose to.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the Michigan House of Representatives just approved a bill in committee that would enable lottery winners to conceal their identities. Currently, people who receive lottery payments of $10,000 or more can remain anonymous in state lotteries. However, Michigan winners of the Mega Millions or Powerball lotteries do not have that option.
That is why the House Regulatory Reform committee approved the bill with a 13-2 vote on May 13th.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit the Michigan Lottery Commission from releasing information about winners without their consent. If the bill is passed, Michigan will join six other states — Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina — in protecting the identity of lottery winners. Four other states — Colorado, Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts — permit anonymity if the winners claim their money via a trust.
“Lottery winnings, while for many is a major plus in their live, it can be a major negative at times,” said Rep. Ray Franz (R). “It costs friendships. It costs family relationships. It costs jobs. I thought it should be an option that’s available.”
The Lottery Commission opposes the bill because they feel it will obstruct the agency’s marketing and publicity efforts, which in turn could drive down lottery ticket sales. The state uses ticket sales to fund education. Last year, Michigan made $742.8 million from lottery revenues.
“We look at it as a step backward in terms of openness and transparency,” Holyfield said.
Hitherto, remaining anonymous has been a popular option for Michigan lottery winners. Last year, the Lottery Commission reports that 69% of the 87 winners of more than $50,000 chose to conceal their identities. However, the single Michigan resident who won $66 million from a Mega Millions pot was unable to remain anonymous, as the lottery’s organizers published the winner’s name.
The bill is now being considered by the full House of Representatives.