Feb 14, 2021, 9:01 am
By Kate Northrop
On Thursday, a State Representative proposed new legislature that would allow Michigan winners of multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball to remain anonymous when claiming a prize.
Only winners of local in-state Michigan games are currently allowed to remain anonymous, but a bill introduced by Rep. Pat Outman specifies that players who win multi-state games would be able to choose to remain anonymous as well.
According to a press release, the intention of the bill is to protect players whose security is compromised after winning significant prizes from Mega Millions, Powerball, and Lucky for Life.
"This is all about providing safety and ensuring winners of these types of games do not receive unwanted, possibly dangerous attention," Outman explained. "The bill would allow those who win the lottery to have the choice to keep their identities anonymous. Allowing a privacy option gives people a more secure feeling and does not leave them open to harassment or a flood of requests for funds, loans or donations."
The bill's timely introduction comes about a month after the ticket for a record-breaking $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot was sold in Novi, Michigan. The winner has not come forward to claim their prize yet, but perhaps they might want to wait to see the outcome. Mega Millions winners have one year from the draw date to claim their prize.
Outman also argues that the rise of social media in the past decade may leave players more vulnerable to scams and solicitation since personal information about lottery winners is so easily accessible. He worries that current law permitting the names of winners be disclosed publicly and to the media could pose a threat to the winner and his or her family.
"Everyone who plays these types of lottery games hopes to win big, and if it happens, it should be a time of celebration, not distress," Outman said. "Several other states allow winners to remain anonymous, and, in my opinion, it's time Michigan allow this option as well."
This is not the first time that similar legislation was examined. In 2016, Rep. Ray Franz introduced a bill that also advocated for player anonymity, which was eventually shot down. However, Outman hopes to kick off his first term in the Legislature on a positive note by bringing back the topic into discussion once more.
"Privacy and safety is key among my position as a State Representative," he added. "I want to keep my constituents safe; I want to make sure they maintain their privacy, and this is a way to ensure that."
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