Mega Millions Is Not A "Public Body?"
Therefore, they say they are not subject to the
requirements of freedom of information statutes

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July 28, 2003

I have been unable to obtain draw sales for the Mega Millions game since June 27, 2003 yet I've made multiple requests for the information - both verbally and in writing. Up until now, I feel I have been more than patient. To explain.

Last Wednesday, 7/23/03, I phoned the Virginia Lottery to ask if they had been receiving my requests for this information. I explained that I hadn't received any responses to my messages so I was curious. It was determined that the messages had been forwarded to their legal counsel. Because I originally received total draw sales initially from Georgia, I told them I would just call Georgia again. But Georgia has not returned my calls either - at least not as of this writing.

I did, however, receive the following message from the Virginia Lottery on Friday, 7/25/03. There is one sentence in this message that disturbs me greatly - as it should you too -

Dear Ms. Nettles:

The Mega Millions website has received your latest requests for information regarding draw sales for various specific dates. The Mega Millions website is available primarily to make players aware of the game and answer questions they may have. As an entity, it does not maintain extensive, detailed databases. Moreover, the information you seek is in the possession of the state lotteries participating in Mega Millions and the operators of the website have no authority to make determinations about the release of information on behalf of those states. It is important to note that Mega Millions is not a public body and is therefore not subject to the requirements of freedom of information statutes.

Accordingly, we are unable to provide the information you have requested. You may wish to direct your inquiries to those states which might have custody of the material you seek. It would then be up to those individual states to determine the appropriate response to your requests.

Now here's what's so disturbing. The states have a monopoly on lotteries. They were given this monopoly as a way to protect the citizens of this country. And, we have Open Government - but now it seems that we have a "lottery" telling us that they don't have to adhere to open records laws.

In a speech given in 1997 by Edward J. Stanek, President of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, Mr. Stanek explained why the states have a monopoly and he explained the intense scrutiny state lotteries face as a result. He said ...

"Private lotteries were prevalent in the nineteenth century until corruption couldn’t be controlled and congress made all interstate lottery activities illegal. Most state constitutions enacted after 1890 followed suit. State lotteries weren’t authorized again until 1963.

Unlike casinos with all of their operations within the confines of a building, lotteries by their nature require thousands of vendors at diverse retail locations and deal with millions of players at these diverse locations. Only a government agency can have the regulatory powers to assert jurisdiction over so many independent entities. Simple employer/employee relationships are not applicable. Policing vendors through private licensing agreements, as is dome for trademarks and patents on a civil basis, is not adequate. Only government authorities have the criminal enforcement ability to deal with such widespread opportunity for fraud. Therefore, significant government involvement to preserve lottery integrity will always be essential. However, the opportunities for private entitles to contribute technology toward the secure and efficient operation of those state entitles will continue to increase."

In defending states governing lotteries rather than private entities, Mr. Stanek said ...

"All Lottery board meetings are public meetings. Lottery files are public records. What companies must produce for the press any record requestedonly lotteries and the U.S. Postal Service that I know of. Each legislative session, with few exceptions, each state lottery is subjected to legislative scrutiny both for budgets and for operations. Detractors have the power of examine the minutest lottery details, voicing opinions, and voting on the lottery’s business operations. Which other gaming enterprises present their operations to a group of detractors for approval and open their files for the press? Which other businesses give a vote on their operations to those opposed to their existence? The regulation in Nevada and Atlantic City doesn’t even come close."

Now, Mega Millions folks say they are not a public body and are not subject to the open records laws? Are they a private entity?

The Mega Millions folks still have not released the sales data that 3 states gave them permission to release to me. Why can I not obtain this information? Have they got something to hide?

Texas plans to make a decision next week on which game they will be joining - if any. All I can say is, this will be interesting to say the least. Even though Governor Perry signed HB3459 that removed our rights to be heard on this matter - which has certainly cost him my next vote - I'm not certain that the Governor ever intended to give the TLC the complete freedom to possibly become partners with a group that publicly states they do not have to adhere to Open Government laws and refuses to provide simple sales data. We'll see but more importantly, we'll see if we can trust the TLC to make decisions FOR the People and not AGAINST the People of Texas.

Mega Millions Draw Sales & Jackpot Rolls By Date



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