PHOENIX - Those who hope to scratch or pick their way to riches may soon get some protection from family, friends and financial creditors wanting piece of he action.
On a 5-2 vote Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military approved a measure allowing future lottery winners to keep their names and addresses confidential. Instead, HB 2082 would provide only for the release of the winners' hometowns.
With the measure already having cleared the House on a wide margin, it requires only the vote of the full Senate and the signature of the governor to become law.
But David Bodney, attorney for The Arizona Republic, is not yet ready to give up.
Having been rebuffed at every turn so far, Bodney is offering a compromise he wants considered by the full Senate: Give lottery winners 10 days of confidentiality to arrange their affairs - and get whatever financial or physical protection for themselves and their families they need - before the names are released.
Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, suggested perhaps one year would be more appropriate, citing the experience of a friend who had won 15 years ago.
"A week later he was bombarded," Meza said. "It was actually relatives who were nonstop asking him for money."
Then came calls from those offering investments.
"I think that's too much time," Bodney responded of that proposal. He said as long as the state runs the lottery, there's a need for maximum transparency.
"Public accountability, giving folks the sense that it wasn't somebody's in-law or nephew or cousin of a member of the Lottery Commission who keeps winning these awards, is essential because it protects against misconduct and cronyism and all that kind of stuff," he told lawmakers.
But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who crafted the legislation, said that's based on the false premise these are public dollars in the first place.
He argued the lottery involves private individuals gambling their money. Kavanagh said a computer determines the winning numbers, with some of those funds going back in winnings and the balance going to the state. None of which, he said, is reason to create problems for those lucky enough to win.
"I want to shield winners from the annoyance and maybe even the harassment of everybody knowing who they are and hitting them up," he said. "How much money we make, how much we're worth is, for the most part, private. You don't go to a cocktail party and tell people that."