The Legislature is cashing in to protect the names of Florida lottery winners who score big.
The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill (HB 159) to protect players from the wealth of unintended consequences that come with prize money. Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ signature is all that’s left to hit the jackpot.
Florida law already makes the address and phone number of winners confidential. But the bill from Sen. Tina Polsky and Rep. Tracie Davis would allow those who win $250,000 or more to keep their names confidential for 90 days, though they would be allowed to waive that right.
Lottery winners are currently made public for transparency — to show the winners are legitimate. And for the lottery, there is also the added benefit of publicity.
But with that publicity, the winner can get unwanted attention, like scams, harassment, and even loss of life. According to proponents, the dream of winning the lottery can become a nightmare for some.
Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, has told House members the recommendation came from Florida Lottery Secretary John Davis. At $250,000 or more, winners must come to the lottery headquarters in Tallahassee to collect their winnings.
During questions on the Senate floor, West Palm Beach Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell asked Polsky why the protection wasn’t added for winning $100,000 or more.
“They suggested that we started at $250,000 so that publicity around people winning prizes is out there and people continue to purchase lottery tickets,” the Boca Raton Democrat responded.
The proposal would take effect immediately upon becoming law. However, without lawmakers re-upping it, the legislation would sunset in October 2027.
The House passed the measure nearly unanimously earlier this month. Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini of Howey-in-the-Hills was the only vote against the bill. Similarly, Estero Republican Sen. Ray Rodrigues was the lone Senator to vote against the measure Thursday as it passed 37-1.
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