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Missouri will allow lottery winners to remain anonymous

Jun 30, 2021, 1:00 pm

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Missouri Lottery

New law takes effect in August

By Kate Northrop

Lottery winners in Missouri will soon be able to claim their prizes under full anonymity once a new law takes effect in August.

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Mike Parson signed four bills into law, one of which allows Missouri Lottery winners the ability to keep their names a secret.

According to a press release from the Governor's website, HB 402 prohibits the Lottery Commission from publishing a winner's name unless they have written permission from the winner.

The bill reverses the state's longtime stance on using winner's likenesses as promotional material for the Lottery. Currently, the Lottery publishes the names of winners on their website, their city of residence, their prize amount, the game they played, and the retailer they purchased their winning ticket from.

"Any legislation we get across the finish line that protects Missourians' privacy and safety is a win for Missouri," Parson told The Associated Press.

State Representative Jay Mosley sponsored the bill for the past three years before it finally made it to Parson's desk. Both the Senate and House unanimously approved the bill on a vote 33-0 and 149-0, respectively.

"This is a safety issue and a way to give winners protection from being easily targeted," he said during the legislative process last year. "Many winners have talked about how winning a lottery prize brought them unwanted attention. This bill is simply a way to allow people to feel safe when they win."

However, the Missouri Press Association (MPA) argued that advertising winners builds trust, while the Lottery says that it increases ticket sales.

"Keeping the names of Lottery winners open promotes transparency and a feeling of fairness in the operation of the Missouri Lottery," MPA said in a written testimony opposing HB 402. "Publishing the winners' names is good for the entire Lottery system. Revealing Lottery winners' names builds trust and excitement, which drives ticket sales."

Mosley contended that the Lottery is actually losing out on sales because of its publishing practices. He argued that Missouri residents are driving across state borders to Kansas to buy lottery tickets, where winners may remain anonymous.

"There are like ten other states — Kansas is one of them — that have anonymity, and I just thought it would be a good thing for us to have," Mosely said in May.

The new law signed by Parson will go into effect on Aug. 28, 2021, which would make it a misdemeanor crime for the Lottery to publicly release identifying information about winners, punishable by up to a year in jail (for the Lottery official or contractor in question) and a fine of $2,000.

To learn more about lottery anonymity laws for each state, Lottery Post maintains a comprehensive list in its lottery forums.

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