The US state of Montana has passed a bill that will allow winners of its own state lottery, the Montana Lottery, to remain anonymous.
The Legislature passed the bill last month and Governor Greg Gianforte signed it into law on March 31. The bill passed the House unanimously and progressed through the Senate 46-4.
On Friday, the Montana Lottery sent out its first news release listing major lottery prizes won this week without including the names of the winners.
While the legislation did not have an effective date, lottery spokesperson Jennifer McKee said they followed the spirit of the legislation in only releasing the towns where the major prizes were won, the amounts won, the game played and the name of the retailer that sold the ticket.
The legislation argued that the individual privacy rights of a lottery winner outweigh the public’s right to know the identity, with Republican Representative Frank Garner of Kalispell stating people who have won significant amounts of money have been preyed upon.
The law overturns a long-standing administrative rule adopted by the lottery that said a winner’s name is public information. It can still release the names of winners in response to court orders and must still check the names of the winners of large prizes against the list of people who owe child support.
The Montana Lottery was approved by referendum in 1986 and the first tickets were sold in 1987. Since then it has paid over $694m in prizes and returned approximately $289m to the state and $78m in retailer commissions.