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NJ lottery winners might soon be able to stay anonymous

Jan 14, 2020, 9:09 am

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New Jersey Lottery

Big jackpot winners and lucky scratch-off ticket holders in New Jersey are one step closer to keeping their winnings a secret after the state Assembly passed a bill that would shield the identity of lottery winners in the state.

The measure (S2267), sponsored by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, would directly amend the state's lottery regulations.

Currently, the state requires the ticket holder to publicly come forward to claim their prize. The New Jersey State Lottery Commission can share the winner's photo, name, town and county, including Mega Millions and Powerball ticket holders.

Under the bill, while the winner's identity would be kept secret, the state could still be aware of their identity for reasons including child support collections, delinquent student loan payments, and other debts to state agencies.

The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk. The Democratic governor has until Jan. 21 to sign or veto the bill.

The legislation was introduced after a New Hampshire woman who won a $559.7 million Powerball jackpot filed a lawsuit seeking to remain anonymous when claiming her prize. Citing her "strong privacy interest," the court ruled in her favor and only released the woman's hometown.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill in 2013, which would have shielded winners' identities for one year. The Republican governor claimed it would "undermine the transparency" of the lottery.

If the bill is signed into law, New Jersey would join six other states — Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota and South Carolina — that allow winners to remain anonymous. Winners in Arizona, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia can remain anonymous if they win more than a certain amount of money.

Lottery Post maintains a forum thread dedicated to tracking the ability to claim lottery prizes anonymously within each state.

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