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With First Drawing Set for Monday, Ban on Ohio's Shot Lottery Proposed

COVID-19 vaccination stickers and vaccination card
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) is sponsoring a bill that would stop Ohio's Vax-A-Million COVID-19 vaccine lottery and prevent similar lotteries from taking place in the future. The winners of the first rounds of the $1 million prize and full college scholarship are to be drawn Monday and announced Wednesday.

Just as the first of five drawings for $1 million and for a college scholarship is taking place Monday, a Republican state representative who’s been critical of Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask mandate and COVID shutdowns has sponsored a bill to ban the Vax-A-Million shot lottery

More than 2.7 million Ohioans have registered for the $1 million prize in the Vax-A-Million lottery, with the first of five weekly drawings happening Monday night. More than 104,000 Ohioans between the ages of 12 and 17 have registered for the drawing for a full-ride scholarship to an Ohio public college or university. Winners will be announced Wednesday.

Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) said assuming there was support for her bill, she knows there’s no way it could be passed and signed or a veto overridden before the first drawing.

“It takes a little bit of time to write a good piece of legislation. So we do have it finalized and that's why we're moving forward on it. Ohioans want their money to be spent wisely, and the vaccine lottery does not do that," Powell said.

But she said there's still a reason to propose it, since it would apply to the four drawings after this week’s.

“And additionally on top of that, we are also looking at the future in the bill as well. In our draft, it does not allow any futuristic vaccine lotteries to take place," Powell said.

Powell pushed back on the increase in COVID vaccination rates since the lottery was announced, saying more talk about the vaccine or other factors could be driving up those numbers.

And she said she still feels the $5 million in prize money and around $1 million in full-ride college scholarships is frivolous, even though it’s not much in comparison to the state budget. The budget also includes Medicaid caseloads that have been rising during the COVID pandemic.

Since Ohio's announcement, three other states, Maryland, New York and Oregon, have followed suit with a form of a vaccine lottery.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.