Should New York State lottery winners be anonymous? Lawmakers say yes

in Lottery

Albany, N.Y. - The New York State Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

The bill passed the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 61-1. The Assembly approved it June 12 by a vote of 140-3.

It was sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Marchione, a Republican from a district east of Albany, and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a Democrat from Middletown.

It would prohibit the state lottery from identifying a winning ticketholder if the winner requests anonymity in writing.

Current law gives the state gaming commission the right to use a winner's name, hometown and photograph for publicity. The gaming commission typically invites winners to attend press conferences to announce the prize. Its website is filled with photos of smiling lottery winners holding giant $1 million checks.

Most states require winners to be public. Lotteries are run by state governments and exposing their activities to public scrutiny can keep them honest.

Marchione said winners are besieged with requests for money, sometimes from charity and sometimes scams. She said winners can be targets for burglary, kidnapping, harassment and fraudulent lawsuits.

Marchione said her bill does not prohibit a lottery winner from appearing at a press conference, but gives them the option to be anonymous.

She called it common-sense privacy protection.

She said she has heard no argument that it would hurt the lottery's marketing efforts.

Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, was the only senator to vote against the bill.

Griffo believes the public has a right to know who wins money from a state-run lottery, his spokesman said. Winners have a year to claim the prize and prepare for what may happen after their names are announced to the public.

Cuomo's staff said it would review the bill. The gaming commission does not comment on pending legislation, a spokesman said.