Raleigh, N.C. — The House Judiciary III Committee voted down a bill Wednesday that would have allowed North Carolina lottery winners to keep their names from being disclosed to the public.
"It's dead," said Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, the bill's sponsor.
Technically, he could continue pushing the measure and call for another committee vote, but Jackson said he wants to spend time on more pressing legislation and that, even if his bill made it out of committee, it probably would be doomed on the House floor.
The measure, which was first heard earlier this month, would have given players the option of publicizing their names. Barring that, the bill would have aligned North Carolina's law with those of South Carolina and Delaware, which do not disclose winners. Roughly 15 other states keep winners confidential for some period of time.
"If I was a winner, I would not really want my name released," said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, who was initially sympathetic to the bill.
Horn voted against the measure, however.
"At the end of the day, I'm really concerned about confidence in government," he said. "I'm going to have to come down on the transparency."
Jackson said he had heard from multiple people who had been, or know, lottery winners who said keeping the information confidential was a good idea. Winners, he said, often have "long lost relatives" and a cast of others hit them up for money or otherwise harass them when they just want to return to their normal lives.
But the lottery opposed the secrecy measure, saying that publicizing winners helps instill confidence in the games and helps them uncover fraud from time to time.
Lottery officials argued they provide education and suggestions to "big" lottery winners who might want to form trusts and take other steps to protect themselves and their winnings. Advocates for the bill, though, said winners may not know what they're getting into or may have pressing financial needs that prod them to claim the prize before they're ready.
Others said that keeping the names private could lead to other abuses.
Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, asked about the situation of a group of people who bought a lottery ticket through a pool arrangement. One person, he said, typically holds that ticket. What happens, he said, if those numbers hit but the person holding the ticket doesn't reveal the win?
"You don't know we've won, and here I am walking away with all the money," he said.
Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, attempted to amend the bill so that winners names would be kept confidential for 90 days.
"I just feel like there is some kind of protection we ought to provide these winners," said Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, who said the extra time would let winners get their affairs in order. "These people who win the lottery often need that money immediately."
That amendment failed 5-6 on a show of hands. When the main bill was voted, it lost on a voice vote.