Mar 16, 2021, 7:43 am
Bill granting anonymity to winners of $500,000 or more passes in Senate
By Kate Northrop
Arkansas lottery players looking for their next big win might be granted the choice to claim their winnings anonymously after a bill protecting winners' identities passed in the Senate.
On Wednesday, a bill allowing Arkansas winners of $500,000 or more the choice to remain anonymous was approved in the Senate 26-9.
The bill was drafted and sponsored by Senator Larry Teague, who had previously put forward a similar bill in the past. In 2019, he proposed legislation that would amend the state's current Freedom of Information laws to allow any winner of a Powerball or Mega Millions drawing to elect that their identity remain confidential and exempt from public records requests.
Following an indefinite adjournment of the House and Senate, the bill died.
Teague drafted new legislation with slight differences. Any winner of $500,000 or more in Arkansas could remain anonymous, but their identity would become public knowledge after three years.
Additionally, a lottery winner who is either an elected official or is related to an elected official in the second degree can only remain confidential for six months.
The goal of his proposed legislation, according to Teague, is to give winners enough time to prepare and adjust to the quickly amassed wealth while ensuring the safety of their families.
Aaron Sadler, the Communications Director of the Arkansas Press Association, disagreed, saying that keeping lottery winners' identities confidential would hinder the lottery's marketing efforts and open the door to corruption.
It remains to be seen whether players will be granted that option for certain. On Wednesday afternoon, the bill was sent to the House Rules Committee for review, where it must then be passed by the House and subsequently signed by the Governor for it to become law.
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