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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Anonymity In All Lotteries Should Be Permitted

Would anonymity in state and multi-state lotteries prevent tragic deaths of winners? Maybe, maybe not. I think it is clear enough that of any murders that have happened after someone was fortunate enough—or unfortunate enough depending on your perspective—to win the lottery, many of those cases were the result of family members, friends, or exes taking them out. That said, I do think that it is dangerous to be forced to come forward publicly after a major prize is claimed, and I think that all states who do not allow anonymity should reconsider.

Tragic deaths like the death of Georgia lottery winner Craigory Burch should never happen under any circumstance, of course. But in at least this particular case, the blame can be largely placed on the fact that Georgia is one of those states who do not allow winners to remain anonymous. Granted, just like guns don't kill people, people kill people, the State of Georgia nor the lottery did not kill Craigory Burch. The three armed masked men who broke into his house demanding money did. One could even question whether the men who killed him knew of Burch's winnings through the media or that they simply knew it by word of mouth? Either could be the case. So anonymity is just one piece of potential protection—it's not going to prevent all possibility of future tragedy.

It is a question I often ask myself every time I buy a ticket. If I win, do I want to have my name and likeness plastered all over the place? The answer is always no. Yet honestly, the fact that even the state where I currently live also requires winners to publicly come forward, it does not prevent me from buying a ticket anyway.

Georgia is introducing a bill that would allow anonymity following Burch's tragic end, but it is not without a catch. Winners who wish to remain anonymous after winning the lottery must pay for the privilege to the tune of what I call a whopping 25% of their winnings.

I call that a very stupid compromise by the way. People who buy lottery tickets of course have to accept that if they win, they will have to also be willing to accept everything that goes along with winning. Paying taxes, change of lifestyle, the fact that they cannot remain completely anonymous—when you are working in a factory and suddenly quit your job, move into an expensive house, and buy a fancier car it's more than a little obvious something has happened to cause that. But we still live in a free country, and I think despite the argument some may make that choosing to play the lottery is also a choice to forego privacy if the law says you cannot remain anonymous, the lottery to my mind is simply a different circumstance. States are quite honestly dangling carrots before the masses for one purpose and one purpose only. To raise money to fund the government. That's what it is. One could even call it a voluntary tax. To my mind forcing a winner to come forward publicly is akin to putting sheep before a pack of hungry wolves on purpose. It is unnecessary, 

As for the suggestion some have made that Craigory Burch potentially also sealed his own fate when he chose to remain where he lived prior to winning, I think that is as stupid as the idea that one should have to pay a portion of their winnings for anonymity. Maybe Craigory Burch would have used the money in some way that would have helped the community in which he lived. Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know. 

The three armed masked men are absolutely the root cause of Burch's death. The murder may have happened regardless whether or not Georgia allowed Burch to remain anonymous. But I think when it comes to this sort of thing, to me it just makes a lot of sense that anonymity should be a choice and that winners should not be forced to make that choice for a price.

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