Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Anti Lottery Outing Bill

The Anti Lottery Outing Bill

“Take your mama out all night and show her what it’s all about.”

-Scissor Sisters

I tell lottery winners to keep quiet. Someone getting money should keep their mouth shut. The more people who know, the more problems you have.

There are ways for lottery winners to protect their identity. It means consulting a lawyer or advisor. Winners can set up a trust or corporation.

It is unlikely I will ever win the lottery. The odds are a zillion to one and I rarely buy tickets.

If I win, my first stop is will be a bank safety deposit box. The ticket will sit there while my advisors and I develop a plan.

I’ll set up a trust and the assets will quietly stay in my family.

People running lotteries want winners to preen for the cameras. It’s good publicity and gets more people to buy tickets. Two Kentucky legislators proposed keeping names of lottery winners private.

They also want to stomp on the public’s right to know.

The Kentucky lottery, like most states, is subject to open records requests. For obvious reasons. The temptation to fix a lottery jackpot is huge.

I’ve never heard of a problem with an American lottery. There are many security features and they operate on the up and up.

A key is media as watchdog. Lottery employees know that any citizen can do an open records request and expose fraud.

The proposed legislation takes away that protection. It would ban open records requests.

If Kentucky passed the proposal, we wouldn’t know if a government official or lottery insider suddenly “hit” the Powerball. We would only suspect if they started carrying $600,000 to strip clubs like Jack Whitaker did.

Lottery winner can keep their privacy with a trust. Someone bought a $140 million ticket near Cincinnati. A trust officer cashed the ticket.

We know what bank has the money. The bank vouched that the recipient was an eligible winner. .

Which means it wasn’t a lottery director’s brother in law.

The Kentucky flap started when Linville Huff won $16 million a few months ago. He cashed his ticket and asked the Kentucky lottery to keep quiet.

They can’t. They are subject to open record laws.

Mr. Huff apparently didn’t set up a trust. He is now a public figure.

He wanted to keep his winnings quiet but I wish he had gotten legal or financial advice.

I work with a lot of injured people. Those who have special needs trusts can protect their assets and government benefits. Those without a trust lose them.

Nothing is more horrible than watching a person lose everything because they didn’t get good advice.

If Kentucky wants to tinker with legislation, they should figure out ways to make it easier on injured people. Victims should be in line before a lottery millionaires.

The legislators didn’t look at the overall picture.

Open record laws allow misbehavior to be outed.

Don McNay is the author of Son of Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What To Do When You When The Lottery. You can write to him at or read his award winning column at