It is the dream come true of the lottery player when he/she wins the lottery. For some winners it is time for luxury, for many it is their family and off the debts schedule to follow with the winning amount with less of financial worries. There is a debatable question that arises with the winners of Canadian lotteries and that is what if the winner wishes to stay anonymous for reasons either personal or public. It is but quite surprising that many lottery corporations in Canada do not wish that the winners remain in anonymity.
The Canadian lottery rules state that an individual must identify him/herself in order to collect the prize and, for some people, that’s more of a burden than they can tolerate.
In a recent case where a winner of $50 million lottery ticket in British Columbia fought a legal battle to remain anonymous as he did not wish to disclose or reveal himself publicly.
The Lotto Max lottery took place on March 16, 2014 and the winner who fought with the B.C. Lottery Corporation’s rule which states that anyone buying a ticket must allow their name and photo to be published before they collect their prize. According to lottery sources, the winner of the Canada lottery after fighting for an year has now been finally awarded the prize by challenging the identity requirement in provincial court for anonymity.
The fight to remain anonymous challenges the long- and widely-held policy of most Canadian lotteries that gives them the right to name winners. Naming winners is a big PR stunt which drives up sales. The lottery corporations and marketers aren’t about to give up that tool without a fight.
Lottery winner Daniel Senger of Grand collected his five million 6/49 prize in Kamloops British Columbia, he was prepared for the presentation by lottery officials who told him that they would be taking his picture, along with an oversized cheque, which would then be featured on their website. When Senger questioned the policy the officials reminded him that, according to the rules of the lottery, as printed on the back of all tickets, receiving the prize was dependent on his cooperation in the PR activities. Senger was anxious about being “outed” but he notes that it wasn’t overwhelming and that the public seems to have forgotten about his win quickly.
Ticket purchases tend to spike in the days following the award of a prize, so it’s clear that publishing winners’ identities is in the interest of the lottery corporation which profits from increased ticket sales.
What does BC Lottery Corporation state on this anonymity debate?
On the BC Lottery website, the Corporation clearly states that it has no obligation to pay or deliver a prize to a winner unless the winner meets the lottery corporation’s conditions. These conditions include the stipulation that the winner will agree to having his name, address, place of residence and recent photograph publicised. According to BCLC spokesperson this rule “protects the integrity of gaming and lotteries by being open and transparent”
BCLC does periodically receive requests for anonymity and it has, in the past, granted such requests, but it does so rarely and only on a case-by-case basis and the BCLC policy meets provincial privacy laws.
No Canadian lottery corporation allows for winner anonymity but in 2007, Loto-Quebec temporarily suspended the requirement for winners of amounts over $4 million. This occurred because of an extortion plot, uncovered by Montreal police, that targeted a Montreal couple who had won $27 million. The requirement was reinstated by Loto-Quebec and now includes a provision that winners’ faces be uncovered in photos, in reference to that province’s burka laws
Lottery Winners Anonymity in other countries
When we speak of anonymity question of lottery winners in the US and Europe then in the six U.S., states Delaware, Maryland, North Dakota, Kansas, Ohio and South Carolina they allow winners to remain anonymous but the rest require identification. If you’re in Europe you can collect your prize while remaining anonymous. The Lotto Net, which operates multiple European Lotteries, writes that “Some people believe it is best to go public so it is over and done with and everyone knows the truth and they will soon be forgotten about. However, some argue that going public is not wise due to the amount of begging letters and pressure for donations.” Lotteries that allow anonymous winners include the National Lottery of the U.K. the Camelot and EuroMillions and lotteries in France and Spain.
But do all the winners wish not to disclose themselves then you will find there are winners who do not want to remain anonymous. On the EuroMillions site, a featured couple explains why they decided to identify themselves. The couple won £61-million. They decided to go public because they felt uncomfortable at the thought of keeping their secret from family and friends. In addition, they felt that by publicising their win they could increase awareness for their chosen charities. EuroMillions also gives winners help with dealing with media attention but if they remain anonymous, they’re on their own.
In China the mega-lottery winners have to endure a live televised broadcast of their win. Chinese winners have an option that they can hide behind costumes. That’s led to a series of bizarre cheque acceptance ceremonies involving a Panda, Mickey Mouse and a giant yellow bear.
It is but not only the lottery corporation who will reveal winner’s identity as a winner of a huge mega lottery is also easily identified. So if the winners don’t identify themselves via the lottery corporation, they find themselves dealing with the press attention without any help.
Opinion of Canada Lawyers
So what is the opinion of Canadian lawyers in such matter of anonymity? According to a Vancouver lawyer Ravi Hira the lottery corporation should make allowances for winners who want to remain anonymous. It is better for the winners to send a trustee on their behalf to collect the winning prize. Also going public could endanger their safety. As when people find that a winner has got so much money there life would be at risk from many angles.
In 2013, a Chicago dry-cleaner was poisoned with cyanide hours after collecting on a $1 million scratch-and-win prize. Also a Florida woman was convicted of murdering a man who publicly won a $30 million jackpot in 2006; she befriended him, killed him, buried him in her yard and then took control of his assets.
The Best Advise for Canada Lottery Winners
So what is the solution then? It is advised that the winners should retain a lawyer as their trustee to accept their prize on their behalf. Several Massachusetts lottery winners have also managed to obscure their identities by sending lawyers and accountants to accept prizes on behalf of hastily drawn up legal trusts. The lawyer retained by the winner then should not disclose the name of the client but present the ticket to the lottery corporation and collect the winner’s prize.