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Bill granting limited lottery winner anonymity passes in Florida House

Feb 7, 2022, 12:37 pm

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Florida Lottery

New legislation offers temporary reprieve from public eye for wins over a certain amount

By Kate Northrop

The Florida House passed a bill that would allow lottery winners of $250,000 and over to keep their identity hidden from public eye for 90 days.

On Wednesday, the Florida House voted nearly unanimously to pass a lottery bill that prevents winners of $250,000 or more from having to divulge their identity for a limited amount of time.

With a vote of 114-1, there was little to no debate on the topic. The one vote against the bill was from State Representative Anthony Sabatini.

Representative Tracie Davis sponsored the bill, HB 159, referencing infamous headlines from Florida and Georgia that have sadly mired the world of lottery winners.

"At some point in our lives, we all dream of winning the lottery," Davis said. "But unfortunately for some people, that dream of winning the lottery, sometimes those dreams become nightmares."

Seasoned lottery players might remember Florida winner Abraham Shakespeare, who met a tragic end after his supposed friend Dorice "Dee Dee" Moore manipulated and murdered him for the remainder of his $30 million fortune.

Moore befriended Shakespeare a couple years after he won the lottery in 2006, claiming she was writing a book about how people were taking advantage of him. Later, prosecutors claimed, she became his financial adviser, eventually controlling every asset he had left, including an expensive home, debt owed to him, and a $1.5 million annuity.

Once Shakespeare understood what was going on, he threatened to kill her, but Moore got to him first. She shot him and buried his body under a concrete slab in her backyard. She is currently serving life without parole.

Last Legislative Session, Senator Tina Polsky and Davis put forward twin bills advocating for lottery winner anonymity, but neither made it into law. Davis' legislation had also passed in the House, but Polsky's stalled in committee and did not make it to the Senate floor.

The $250,000 minimum prize for anonymity in Davis' current bill was recommended by Florida Lottery Secretary John Davis, while Polsky argued that the 90-day limit would be enough time to organize finances and security measures.

"The reason behind the 90 days is to give a lottery winner sufficient time to plan responsibly by notifying family, obtaining financial advice, and even getting the funds into investments," Polsky explained. "It will also provide time for the winner to put security measures in place while ultimately disclosing the information to the public."

As of now, the Florida Lottery withholds the addresses and phone numbers of lottery winners from public eye, but names are made public so as to advertise legitimate wins of "real" people.

The next step for Davis' current lottery bill is the Senate. In order to become law effective immediately, it would need to pass by a two-thirds vote.

Thanks to fortran for the tip.

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