Cuomo rejects bill allowing NY Lottery winners to remain anonymous

Cuomo rejects bill allowing NY Lottery winners to remain anonymous

Festa Vega

Carl Festa, of Auburn, claims a $1 million check for winning a $1 Million Mayhem scratch-off presented to him Friday, July 13 by NY Lottery’s Yolanda Vega.

A bill that received bipartisan support in the state Legislature that would've allowed New York Lottery winners to remain anonymous has been vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation sponsored by state Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and state Sen. Kathy Marchione would've allowed winners to submit written requests to the New York Lottery if they wish to not have their identities disclosed. 

New York Lottery publicizes the winners of large prizes. In 2015, a press conference was held to announce that a retired electrician from Cayuga County won a $42.5 million jackpot on a Lotto ticket. A similar event was held this year when an Auburn man won $1 million on a scratch-off ticket

A New York City man who recently won a $343 million Powerball jackpot said he wishes winners could remain anonymous. 

Six states — Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina — allow lottery winners to remain private. 

The memo of the bill sponsored by Gunther and Marchione details "consequences" lottery winners face, including frivolous requests and scams. 

"Public disclosure of a lottery winner's identifying information makes the winner vulnerable to this sort of activity," the memo reads. "More importantly, it can make the lottery winner a target of criminal activity. This can include burglary, kidnapping, harassment, fraudulent lawsuits, etc." 

A vast majority of state legislators agreed with Gunther and Marchione. The Assembly passed the bill by a 140-3 vote. The state Senate approved it by a 61-1 margin. 

But Cuomo vetoed the bill for two reasons. In his veto message, he explained that releasing the names of lottery winners "provides accountability to the members of the public who have also been playing the game." He added that it "provides comfort to the general public that there was an actual winner, and the state was not simply adding all the money to its own coffers." 

Cuomo also contends that there is already a process in place if a person wants to remain anonymous. Winners can create limited liability corporations to collect the winnings on their behalf. The Division of Lottery allows an LLC to accept prizes. 

"This practice maintains accountability to the public while also allowing the individual to remain anonymous," he said. 

The bill was one of several Cuomo either signed or vetoed Friday. 


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