New Jersey Lotto Winners Now Have Choice to Remain Anonymous

Lottery Winner Holding Winning Powerball CheckLottery winners in the state of New Jersey will now have the choice to remain anonymous. This is following a new law that Governor Phil Murphy signed on Tuesday. This bill passed the state Senate and Assembly without a single dissenting vote earlier this month.

Under the new law, the state lottery commission must set rules and regulations that permit lottery players to keep their identities unknown to the public.

Murphy signed S-2267, which makes an exemption to the Open Public Records Act, which allows people who win hefty amounts of money while playing the New Jersey lottery to have the option to have their identity withheld.

The original resolution, which was signed into law in November of 1969, required winners of large amounts of money to reveal their identities to the public. This has come in the form of press conferences, OPRA requests, and press releases.

“To amend, repeal, or supplement any such rules and regulations from time to time as it deems necessary or desirable, and to establish by regulation that holders of winning tickets or shares may choose to remain anonymous indefinitely and that the identity of a holder choosing such option shall not be included under materials available to public inspection,” the amendment says.

New Jersey isn’t the first state to allow winners to opt for anonymity. They join a growing list of states who also permit privacy, which are Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas. Arizona and Virginia also passed their own privacy bills last year.

Some states allow players to claim prizes anonymously through trusts. While many states have laws that dictate a winner’s name, hometown, and prize amount become public information.

Avoiding the “Lottery Curse”

The New Jersey law’s sponsors say this bill targets a phenomenon that is often referred to as the “lottery curse.”

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement that the curse often brings about harassment and threats. It usually occurs after winners’ identities are released to the public.

“The winners should have the option of remaining anonymous if they want to stay out of the limelight and away from unwanted attention,” Sweeney said.

Jason Kurland, a New York-based “lottery lawyer,” said that the best advice for new lottery winners is to keep your mouth shut and call a lawyer:

“Don’t advertise it,” Kurland said. “Don’t tell too many people you won. If your name’s out there, everyone comes out. Not only family you haven’t spoken to in a long time, but charities. Mostly good. But some are bogus.”

In 2018, the winner of what was then the eighth biggest jackpot in US history — a $560 million Powerball prize — successfully sued the New Hampshire Lottery for the right to remain anonymous.

The judge in the case said he was in no doubt that the New Hampshire woman, known only as Jane Doe, would be subject to “an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation, and other unwanted communications” should her name be revealed. Her right to privacy “outweighed the public’s interest in the disclosure of her name,” he ruled.

Opponents argue that requiring winners’ names to be available to the public promotes transparency within the industry. And this transparency is supposed to promote the perception that the lottery has integrity. The publicity is also good for business because it puts real faces and names to real winners. Apparent, the attention brought in by a jackpot winner usually results in a large spike in lottery sales for the upcoming draw.

Not Completely Anonymous

Even with the new law, winners of the New Jersey state lottery won’t be flying completely under the radar. Their identity will just be unavailable to the press and the public eye. State agencies will still be able to share their details internally, so they can remove things like outstanding child support payments, public assistance overpayments, and defaulted student loan payments before handing over the earnings.

Tennessee Lottery Finalizing Sports Betting Regulations in February

Tennessee State Flag: Blue Circle, White Stars, Red BackgroundSix months after online sports betting became legal in Tennessee, state lottery officials are still finalizing the rules governing how licensees will operate. The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp.’s Board of Directors is scheduled to meet in Nashville on Feb. 19. That immediately follows the TEL Sports Wagering Advisory Council meeting to further discuss the draft regulations the lottery released in late November.

Dave Smith, TEL Communications Director, gave this public comment:

“The goal is the TEL Board of Directors votes on the rules and regulations at its February 19 meeting.”

It’s unsure whether lottery officially will be able to take applications after the meeting adjourn. State Rep. Rick Staples, who sponsored the bill legalizing sports betting in Tennessee, and other leaders are hopeful that they can start taking applications next month and start product rollouts beginning in March.

Tennessee to Exclusively Take Online Sports Betting Applications

In a stark contrast to how every other state that has legalized sports betting in the US has operated, Tennessee decided to go exclusively go with online sports betting applications, not requiring brick-and-mortar establishments.

The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, passed by state legislators last spring, did not legalize physical gambling locations Currently, the state does not have any casinos. Because of this, lawmakers placed sports betting under the TEL’s discretion.

The Gaming Act enforces the following rules: Players must be at least 21 years of age and physically present in the state in order to place a bet, operators will need to pay an annual $750,000 licensing fee, and the state will impose a 20% tax on licensees’ adjusted gross income.

Sports Bettor’s Criticism Over Proposed Hold Rule

Tennessee’s innovative approach to sports betting, with the acknowledgement of how much mobile applications dominate in states that allow both retail and online establishments, has received high praise. Whereas other states, the handle for online betting far exceeds the amount brick-and-mortar sportsbooks take. In some cases, it’s as wide as an 80/20 split.

What’s not receiving critical acclaim amongst sports bettors however, is the proposed hold rate. The proposed rule would require sportsbooks to cap payouts at 85 percent. The resulting 15 percent hold is up to three times as much as the average rate for the sports wagering industry.

Robert Walker, Director of Sports Book Operations for US Bookmaking, tweeted this about the proposed hold tying into the Tennessee Lottery:

Other Concerns

Other aspects of Tennessee’s sports betting that have drawn criticism are its requirement for using official league data and its high tax rate.

Tennessee is one of only three states that requires sportsbooks to use official league data to score live betting opportunities, joining Illinois and Michigan. However, Tennessee’s law allows for an exception if the league cannot provide the data under “commercially reasonable terms.”

The state is also planning to tax licensees at 20% of their adjusted gross revenue every month. Out of all the states that generate its sports betting income off of taxes, that rate is a bit lower in comparison to Pennsylvania’s 36%.