The Oklahoma Lottery Commission this last week voted to wait for the Legislature to decide whether people should be able to claim lottery prizes through an anonymous trust.
This should be a slam dunk decision for the legislature.
Funds collected through the sales of lottery tickets are no less public funds than those collected through other state imposed fees. The primary purpose of the lottery is to raise state funds to pay for education, just like property taxes. That money should be accounted for in the same manner.
State Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, correctly questioned the possibility that those ineligible to play the lottery, such as commission employees, could use a trust to claim a winning ticket.
Commission members will study the issues, but said since lawmakers wrote the lottery law and should have the final say on changing it.
“The key issue is transparency,” said George Charlton, a commission member from Tulsa, who heads the panel that will delve deeper into the issue.
The people of the state are pouring the money into the lottery fund, and they have to right to know who the winners are. When the first “trust fund” claimed a $400,000 lottery pay-off in September, speculation as to winner’s identity went wild.
How many people want to play a game where the winner’s name may be kept secret?
Total openness is the only way to operated a fair lottery, and that’s the only kind of a lottery we should except in Oklahoma.
Most states with lotteries, including bordering Kansas, require that lottery prizes go to individuals. One state allows a trust to win, but not a blind, or anonymous, trust. Another state allows a trust to file a claim, but requires public disclosure of beneficiaries of the trust.
Rep. Jolley says he will sponsor bill next year that would prevent people from claiming prizes through a trust unless the winning ticket was bought by that trust. He said Oklahomans were promised accountability when they approved the lottery at a statewide vote.
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