Measure to Provide Anonymity for Lottery Winners Moves Forward at Idaho Legislature 

click to enlarge IDAHO  LOTTERY
  • Idaho Lottery
A proposal to provide more confidentiality for lottery winners got pushback Wednesday from the Idaho State Lottery Commission, but was ultimately approved by a legislative panel.

"This idea came to me from one of my constituents: an elderly lady who was a lottery winner but was quickly harassed by phone calls and people showing up at her door, trying to separate her from her winnings," said Rep. Lynn Luker (R-Boise). "If we approve this, Idaho would join six other states that offer some form of anonymity to lottery winners."

House Bill 95 would prevent the Idaho Lottery from disclosing the names or addresses of winners without their approval. The new rule would be limited to winnings of $600 or higher.

"But $600 is too low a number. It's an over-broad number. If this is designed to protect people from harassment, fine, but the level of $600 is not appropriate," said former Idaho House member and current lobbyist Skip Smyser, who added he was representing the Idaho press corps."Transparency is important. Idahoans want to know if Idahoans are actually winning the lottery."

Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said he "agreed to disagree" with Luker regarding the intent of the legislation, but still testified in opposition.

"Currently, people have to let us know if they don't want us to use their identity. This legislation reverses that, [to] where people would have to opt in for us to use their identity. They're playing a public game," said Anderson. "In my 10 years with the lottery, I'm unaware of any individual who has been harassed. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but we haven't heard about it."

When it came down to a vote, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee divided along party lines, with Democratic Reps. Paulette Jordan (Plummer) and Elaine Smith (Pocatello) voting "no" and the Republican supermajority agreeing to forward the legislation to the full House.
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