Chinese: Should Lottery Winner’s Identity Be Made Public?

Lottery balls in China.

Lottery balls in China.

From NetEase:

Lottery Player Wins Huge 520 Million Jackpot, Fairness of Not Publicizing Prize-Winner’s Identity Questioned

As administrative law, are the current “Lottery Administration Regulations” trending too much towards business regulations [the regulation of trade and transactions], neglecting the public’s right to know [details of a situation]? Has it gone too far in keeping information about a prize winner secret?

According to reports, a lottery player in Taiyuan recently grabbed the Union Lotto top prize, a jackpot reaching 520 million yuan. With regards to such an astronomical figure, many netizens aren’t jealous, envious, and hateful but questioning the fairness of the lottery, with there even being someone saying it is “fabricating children’s fairy tales, to lure even more people into buying lottery tickets.”

There were a couple people who suggested that the questioning was out of jealously, but the questioning in the comments under the relevant news articles were like a wave, and thus for a lottery founded on being public and transparent, the questioning has become an issue about public credibility worth reflecting on.

Open transparency is undoubtedly the best disinfectant. The “Lottery Administration Regulations” enacted by the State Council in 2009 stipulates: The issuing, sale, and drawing of lottery tickets should comply with the principles of being open/public, fair, just, and honest/trustworthy; the lottery ticket issuance and sales agencies should provide society full disclosure on the issuance and sales of lottery tickets, and accept the public’s supervision. However, these regulations simultaneously stipulate: “The prize winner’s personal information should be kept confidential”.

This then presents a paradox: If the prize-winner’s information isn’t made public, how can the public effective exercise oversight? So, every time a huge jackpot is awarded, there is always controversy over whether or not the identity of the recipient of the huge jackpot should be made public.

How should a huge jackpot recipient’s right to privacy and the transparency of the lottery be balanced?

One interesting phenomenon is that when you open the official websites of lotteries in the United States, UK, and such countries, there are often detailed personal information about the recipients of major prizes, including photographs, their names, reactions to winning, etc. Opposite that is the information of China’s winners being firmly hidden.

Why do Western countries that normally stress individual privacy instead demonstrate even more openness when it comes to information about recipients of major prizes? This requires looking at the nature of the lottery. Although the lottery looks like a simple transaction, the lottery isn’t actually a “private transaction”, one that requires an emphasis on privacy rights; on the contrary, the lottery is a government monopoly business, where it collects funds from the people through the issuance of lottery tickets and then takes a portion of it to distribute as prizes to individuals. The lottery prize money by nature is still public property, so of course the public has the right to know [who it goes to].

With that said, the recipient of the prize is taking the public’s money, and on the basis of transparency in public property, his privacy rights must yield. In America, information about prize recipients is made public in principle in accordance with the “Freedom of Information Act”, but there is some differences between how states implement it in practice. At present, aside from six states including Kansas, all the other states require that the identity of the winner be made public. However, if the winners believe information about winning will bring some latent danger to their personal safety, they can also get a court order that their identity not be made public, or establish a company or fund to collect the prize money. Nonetheless, where the prize money goes is still clearly known, balancing privacy rights and the public’s right to know.

After making such a crosswise comparison, we also have to think: as administrative law, are the current “Lottery Administration Regulations” trending too much towards business regulation, neglecting the public’s right to know? Has it gone too far in keeping information about a prize winner secret? Hopefully future “Lottery Regulations” can provide a response.

Comments from NetEase:

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网易北京市网友 ip:115.183.*.*

The major prize winners in our country all have the following notable characteristics:
1. They all bought their lottery tickets far from where they live or work.
2. None of the people at the lottery ticket sales stand or nearby recognize him.
3. They all purchased dozens of tickets.
4. They’re usually middle-aged men.
5. They all wear face-masks when collecting their prize.

It’s basically always a middle-aged man, who went to somewhere unknown, who buys hundreds of tickets at once, as if they know they’re definitely going to win…

萌油瓶 [网易天津市网友]:

Fabricating people who reap without sowing, to con a bunch of people who want to reap without sowing, ultimately supporting a bunch of people who really do reap without sowing.

牛求异 [网易浙江省温州市鹿城区网友]:

People who buy lottery tickets are all voluntarily paying a low-IQ tax to society.

贰两包子 [网易辽宁省沈阳市网友]:

Not only is it not transparent, there have already been multiple times where someone has won the big prize after a single ticket multiplied a hundred times. That probability is one in a ten billion!

牛求异 [网易浙江省温州市鹿城区网友]:

I’ve heard something like this: Whether or not gambling is illegal depends on who the dealer/house is.

供着贪官小三财产禁止观看 [网易上海市网友]:

Who spends over 200 yuan in tickets, and wins? Try it again and let’s watch you lose it all. Not making [the identity of the winner] public is fraud!

网易天津市网友 ip:111.164.*.*

Can’t believe there are actually people who persist in buying [playing the lottery]. Search online for incidents of lottery fraud. My friends, wake up!

网易美国网友 ip:75.90.*.*

It is extremely likely that it’s all a trick, and in fact, it’s us planting chives, and them harvesting chives bringing it all home [pocketing it]. And we’re still thinking someone really won it all. The best way to clear out a prize pool is to have some mystery person win it all at once.

网易湖北省仙桃市网友 ip:58.53.*.*

One word: “fake”. Either way, I’m not playing.

无味半川 [网易上海市网友]:

When there are countless eyes emitting a green glow, and countless fangs emitting a white glow, you just try making the winner’s information public and see what happens.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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