Raleigh, N.C. — The days of North Carolina lottery winners posing with giant checks might be numbered.
State law now requires that the names of lottery winners be publicized, but House Bill 516 would disclose their names only if they consent. Also, the names would be handed over to state and federal tax authorities and to the courts in cases where there is an outstanding judgment against a winner.
"I just got to thinking and thought, 'Wow, they're going to be targets of some type of scam artists or criminals," sponsor Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, said Monday.
Jackson said the bill still needs work and likely won't be considered until next year.
North Carolina Education Lottery officials question the sudden need to keep winners' names under wraps, saying releasing the names goes hand-in-hand with being a public agency.
"For that information to suddenly be secret, we think would raise questions about the lottery," lottery spokesman Van Denton said. "Our players want to know who wins those prizes. They are entering a contest, and one of the most frequent questions we get when we have drawings is, 'Who are the winners?'"
Retailer Rami Nasa said he doesn't care if winners' names are disclosed as long as the lottery keeps publicizing where winning tickets are sold. His One Stop Shop convenience store on Mitchell Mill Road in eastern Wake County has become a destination for lottery players since a Zebulon man bought two winning Cash 5 tickets there, totaling $1.3 million before taxes.
"People get to know that a certain place has got so many winners," Nasa said. "A lot of people have been talking about it. I hear it every other day. ... I've seen some new faces to play the lottery, especially Cash 5."