Arizona lawmakers are again considering an effort to keep the state’s lottery winners anonymous.
Republicans on a House panel advanced Rep. Nancy Barto’s bill on a 5-3 vote Tuesday. If approved and signed into law, gamblers with winnings of $100,000 or more would be allowed to request that their identity be kept a secret.
HB 2552 doesn’t change existing law, which keeps the names of prizewinners receiving $600 or more confidential for 90 days, even if they don’t request anonymity.
Lawmakers have repeatedly rejected efforts for full anonymity. Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, tried and failed to pass a similar law in 2013, but was rebuffed on votes in the state Senate. He settled on the 90-day grace period in 2015, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law.
Chase Bales, an attorney for KPNX-TV in Phoenix and the Arizona Republic, said Barto’s bill is unnecessary – the grace period already gives lottery winners a chance to get their affairs in order if they suddenly become wealthy. And news organizations need access to the names of winners in order to ensure the state’s lottery system isn’t subject to fraud – public oversight helps promote confidence in the system, he said.
“The law already strikes the right balance,” Bales told the House Commerce Committee.
Barto, R-Phoenix, called the specter of fraud a “red herring,” and testified that she knows Arizonans who are afraid to play the lottery out of concerns for their personal safety in the event they win.
“They’re asking for the names so they can exploit these people and harass them,” Barto said.