Maryland Latest State to Use Lottery as COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive


Posted on: May 21, 2021, 12:04h. 

Last updated on: May 20, 2021, 03:46h.

Maryland is encouraging its residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and enticing them to do so with free cash.

Maryland Lottery vaccine COVID-19
A man receives a COVID-19 vaccination last month in West Philadelphia. The Maryland Lottery is encouraging residents to receive the vaccine with a chance at free money. (Image: NPR)

The Maryland Lottery, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Health, yesterday revealed its $2 million “VaxCash” promotion. 

Beginning May 25, one $40,000 winner will be randomly selected every day for 40 consecutive days. On July 4, the final lucky individual will win $400,000.

Our mission is to ensure no arm is left behind, and we are committed to making sure no stone is left unturned,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). “Get your shot for a shot to win.”

The Maryland Lottery will cover the $2 million from its marketing budget. 

Maryland is the latest state to use its lottery to encourage people to get vaccinated. Ohio started the trend earlier this month with promising five $1 million lucky winners. New York is handing out $20 scratch tickets in exchange for COVID-19 shots, with a top prize of $5 million. 

Residents Automatically Entered

Federal and state governments are collecting an unprecedented amount of personal information to track the number of people who are, and are not, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

But the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — commonly referred to as HIPPA — provides Americans with privacy protections designed to keep their health data confidential. However, states are fully aware of who has received a COVID-19 vaccine. Maryland’s “VaxCash” program explains that the state Department of Health “maintains records and personal data of those who have had COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Maryland within a secure computer system.”

People who win a $40,000 COVID-19 vaccine prize, or the $400,000 grand prize, will be allowed to remain anonymous, the Maryland Lottery says. Maryland is one of 11 states that allows its lottery winners to remain anonymous, Ohio being another one of those states. 

New York isn’t anonymous, but its vax lottery program is slightly different. New Yorkers who receive a vaccine at one of the state’s 10 mass vaccination sites will receive a free $20 Mega Multiplier Lottery scratch-off ticket. Therefore, it won’t be publicly known if the Multiplier player won because they were vaccinated.  

Vaccination Rates Slowing

The three states are utilizing their lotteries in response to a slowing of vaccine distributions. 

Troubling news, the number of vaccinations are slowing,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) admitted. “And they’re slowing dramatically. We have a 43 percent decline in people coming in for vaccinations.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) says he’s using federal coronavirus funds to pay for the vax lottery initiative. 

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” the governor stated. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

The CDC says 60.5 percent of the total US population aged 18 and older has received at least one vaccine dose, while 48.4 percent are fully vaccinated.