Keep the Arizona Lottery transparent

By Editorial Board

The Republic

Mar 7, 2013

If you want people to play your lottery, leave no doubts you run a clean game.  Most states get this, but Arizona lawmakers are on the verge of making secret one of the most significant aspects of their game: the winner.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced House Bill 2082 after the state released the name of a Fountain Hills man who won half of a $587.5 million Powerball jackpot in November.  Kavanagh said the man told him he “hasn’t had a good night’s rest since he won the money because he was so fearful.”  We should all be so sleep-deprived.

Kavanagh argues that the safety of Lottery players shouldn’t be jeopardized simply because they had the good fortune of winning. But there is no hard evidence lottery winners require greater protection than other wealthy people.

If HB 2082 becomes law, the names of Lottery winners will be confidential.  And that means Arizonans would be left to trust that state officials are doing everything aboveboard the next time they lavish millions on a now-secret Lottery winner. What if that winner is a loved one or business associate of a Lottery official?

Sound far-fetched?  Not in Arizona. In 1997, then-Gov. Jane Dee Hull fired the Arizona Lottery’s executive director for trying to push through a lucrative contract with a company where he was once director of sales.

Kavanagh’s bill could go to the Senate floor as early as today. Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, plans to offer an amendment that would give winners 10 days before disclosing their names.  That seems a worthy compromise. Winners would have time to take any safeguards they deemed necessary, and Arizonans would have confidence that comes only from transparency.

Think that’s still unfair to winners? Ask yourself this: Would you publicly disclose your name for $500 million?

Public Gaming /Paul Jason -   / Susan Jason -  /Office Phone - + 425-449-3000