(TRENTON) – To protect the safety of lucky New Jerseyans who win the lottery, Assemblyman John Burzichelli sponsored legislation allowing for winners of the State Lottery to remain anonymous. The bill cleared the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee Thursday.
“While winning the lottery is a dream come true for those lucky individuals who are able to call themselves winners, they are sometimes hounded and harassed as a result of their newfound wealth and fame,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem). “In some cases, lottery prizes have resulted in winners being robbed and even killed, such as in places like Chicago, Georgia and West Virginia. If a lottery winner wishes to remain anonymous, they should have the right to not have their information publicly distributed.”
The bill (A-3616) directs the State Lottery Commission to allow lottery winners in New Jersey to remain anonymous indefinitely.
Current regulations provide that the State Lottery may use names, addresses, prize amount and photographs of winners, but the addresses listed do not include a street or house number. Additionally, under current law, a winner’s name, town and country are available through a formal request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
This bill would also provide an exemption from such OPRA disclosure.
There is precedent for a bill such as this one, with states like Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas providing at least some anonymity for lottery winners. Winners in Colorado, Connecticut and Vermont can bypass having their names released by claiming winnings through a trust or a limited liability company.
The bill now heads to the Speaker for further consideration.