Lottery anonymity debated


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As reported through an Associated Press story in last Saturday's edition, a debate over publication of Lottery winners' names is playing out in states across the U.S.

We've detailed our position in this space before: the Lottery is state-operated and involves public funds, so publishing winners names is part of the effort toward full disclosure, no different than government budgets, spending records, meeting minutes or other public records.

Lawmakers in Michigan and New Jersey, however, have proposed bills that would allow anonymity because they say winners are prone to falling victim to scams, shady businesses, greedy distant relatives and violent criminals.

Of 44 states participating in Powerball and 33 in Mega-Millions, Bob Christie's AP story said only Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio allow blanket anonymity. As noted, Michigan and New Jersey are among those considering the same approach.

Pennsylvania, meanwhile, has a history that helps justify disclosure of winners' names. Some will remember the 1980 case in which Pennsylvania Lottery district manager Edward Plevel and TV announcer Nick Perry were convicted of fixing the result of the a Daily Number drawing. Authorities found that some of the ping-pong balls used in the game were injected with paint to make them too heavy to float up the winning slots. Eight people were involved in the fix and won about $1.2 million.

We encourage even local nonprofit organizations that have raffles or other contests to reveal the winners and the amount won. It reassures those who bought tickets that there was a payout, and that nothing underhanded took place. To leave the "results" of such a contest unannounced only breeds suspicion.

As for Pennsylvania's results, we'll continue to create monthly stories listing winners of $1,000 or more. While our stories make it convenient for readers, the Lottery has the very same information available on its public website.

News in new places

Trade magazine Editor & Publisher reported this week an interesting experiment in which news and advertising is printed on restaurant receipts at Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C.

Either with initial checks, coffee or dessert, diners are being handed a separate "news receipt" with the latest headlines from the Associated Press. The update is called, simply enough, "The Latest News."

The idea is to see if news updates will serve as a customer amenity and leverage thousands of existing restaurant printers as a new worldwide printing press.

The news receipts deliver the top of the current news, particularly events that broke during the diner's meal.

Advocates say the printed updates have several advantages in this venue over the smartphone, providing access to the news without people becoming absorbed in their devices while at the same time contributing to table conversation and interaction. (We'll see if that actually works.)

Revenues will come from advertisers wanting to reach restaurant diners with an innovative, eye-catching way to deliver the news.

This interesting experiment is said to marry "the speed of the Internet with the power of paper."

Year in Review

Be sure to read our annual Year in Review edition that will be part of Sunday's paper. It notes all of the year's major and otherwise interesting news stories, as well as all of the births and deaths published in The News-Item. The keepsake edition also has dozens of photos, including a larger spread this year for the "Year in Photos."

(Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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